The Vodacom Blue Bulls are guaranteed of a home semi-final, while Toyota Free State and DHL Western Province will battle it out for the other home semi-final. The last semi-final berth will go to either the Cell C Sharks or Xerox Golden Lions.
DHL Western Province ensured that they remained in the running for a possible home semi-final with a bonus-point 40-17 victory against Toyota Free State in Cape Town, thanks to a hat-trick by former Junior Springbok hooker, Daniel Jooste, and a brace by flanker Gift Dlamini.
The visitors entered the break 12-7 ahead, but the hosts bounced back strongly in the second half and used their chances well, which saw them outscore the opposition six tries to three. The victory allowed them to close the gap between themselves and the second-placed Free State to one log point going into the last pool round.
In Durban, the Vodacom Blue Bulls took a step closer to finishing the regular season as the top side as they defeated the Cell C Sharks 44-25 in what marked their seventh victory in nine outings. The Pretoria outfit currently need only one point from their final pool match to cement their place at the top of the standings.
The Vodacom Blue Bulls had the upper hand in a competitive first half, taking an 18-13 lead, but their effective finishing saw them finish the match with six tries, with winger Sabastian Jobb touching down twice, while they limited the opposition to four tries.
The defeat for the KwaZulu-Natalians left them tied on 19 log points with the Xerox Golden Lions, meaning both sides will be under pressure to win their next match to snatch the last semi-final spot.
A strong first half by the Leopards, meanwhile, paved the way for their 33-28 victory against the Xerox Golden Lions in the bottom-of-the-table clash in Potchefstroom.
The hosts raced to a 20-0 halftime lead, but they faced strong resistance from their Johannesburg neighbours in the second half as they scored a whopping 28 points. The Leopards, however, managed to add to their score which saw them score five tries to four in the end – two of which were scored by winger Pienaar van Niekerk – which earned them their second win of the season.
SA Rugby U21 Championship Round 9 results and scorers:
DHL Western Province 40 (7) Toyota Free State 17 (12)
DHL Western Province – Tries: Daniel Jooste (3), Gift Dlamini (2), Sihle Njezula. Conversions: David Coetzer (4), Abner Van Reenen.
Toyota Free State – Tries: Vleis Meades, Conan Le Fleur (2). Conversion: James Mollentze.
Cell C Sharks 25 (13) Vodacom Blue Bulls 44 (18)
Cell C Sharks – Tries: Jeandre Labuschagne, Le Roux Malan, Donald Falconer, Rynhardt Jonker. Conversion: Jaden Hendrikse. Penalty Goal: Jaden Hendrikse.
Vodacom Blue Bulls – Tries: Mornay Smith, Keagan Johannes, Sabastian Jobb (2), Wian van Niekerk, Theo Boshoff. Conversions: Vaughen Isaacs, Theo Boshoff (3). Penalty Goals: Vaughen Isaacs (2).
Leopards 33 (20) Xerox Golden Lions 28 (0)
Leopards – Tries: Sylvester Hassien, Janlu Steenkamp, Pienaar van Niekerk (2), Heinrich Botha. Conversions: Janlu Steenkamp. Penalty Goals: Janlu Steenkamp (2).
Xerox Golden Lions – Tries: Oupa Mthiyane, Shaun Williams, Tatenda Mujawo, Morne Brandon. Conversions: Marc Morrison (2), Luke Rossouw (2).