FNB UP-Tuks Young Guns won their third Young Guns title after they beat defending champions FNB UFS Young Guns 26-13 in a hard fought match in Bloemfontein on Monday.
The Pretoria side got their revenge after losing last year's final to the same opponents with an impressive all-round performance on both attack and defence.
They opened the scoring after No.8 Jeandre Swanepoel eased his way over the tryline off a well worked driving maul in the seventh minute of the game.
Kovsies clearly became rattled after they went behind with some basic errors creeping into their game. They were also not helped with some pinpoint kicking from the UP-Tuks Young Guns, keeping the home side pegged in their own half.
By the first strategy break it was still only 8-0 to the visitors with Kovsies struggling to hold onto the ball with their line-outs and scrums failing them.
It was on the half hour mark when the Bloem side finally got onto the scoreboard when scrumhalf Arrie Pretorius took a quick tap from a scrum penalty five metres from the UP-Tuks Young Guns tryline to dive over for a try. Fullback Stephen Rautenbach could not convert however, which would have levelled the scores.
It was all Kovsies in the final five minutes of the first half, but handling errors let them down at crucial moments. A missed penalty by young Tuks' flyhalf Tinus de Beer on the half-time hooter meant that the home side will still just three points adrift at the break at 8-5.
UP-Tuks Young Guns started like a house on fire in the second half when flank Johannes Meintjies scored his team's second try off a driving maul in the 45th minute. They then went further on front from the restart when Swanepoel found space in his own 22 before passing to wing Keanan van Wyk who raced for the third try in just a matter of two minutes to give the visitors a commanding 24-5 lead.
By the second strategy the break the score remained the same with the Kovsies struggling to get back into the game with their handling letting them down on numerous occasions.
With 20 minutes to go the home side was handed a lifeline after young Tuks fullback Philip Orffer was given a yellow card for a deliberate infringement, but instead it was the visitors who went further in front after a De Beer penalty.
Kovsies tried desperately in the last ten minutes to find an answer to the visitor's strong defence but could just not cross the whitewash. UP-Tuks Young Guns were then reduced to 14-men again when flank, Marco van Staaden, was yellow carded for tackling a player in the air.
With just seconds remaining, Nardus Erasmus got a consolation try for Kovsies, but it did not take away from what was a dominant performance from UP-Tuks Young Guns.
Player that Rocks: Ashton Fortuin
For UFS Young Guns:
Tries: Pretorius, Erasmus
For UP-Tuks Young Guns:
Tries: Swanepoel, Meintjies, Van Wyk
Cons: De Beer 3
Pen: De Beer
Yellow cards: Philip Orffer (U-Tuks Young Guns) and Marco van Staden (UP-Tuks Young Guns)
FNB UFS Young Guns: 15 Stephan Rautenbach, 14 Carel-Jan Coetzee, 13 Julian Jordaan, 12 Carel Durow, 11 Dale Koopman, 10 Dwayne Wessels, 9 Arrie Pretorius, 8 Daniel Nyamugama, 7 Nardus Erasmus, 6 De Wet Bezuidenhout, 5 Andries Kriek (captain), 4 Ntokoza Vidima, 3 Thabiso Kanye, 2 Robin Stevens, 1 Johan Kotze.
Replacements: 16 Henry Slabbert, 17 Janu Botha, 18 Lawrence Danso, 19 Willandre Kotzenberg, 20 TJ Goddard, 21 Aphiwe Dinga, 22 Dale Koopman, 23 Quintin Vorster.
FNB UP-Tuks Young Guns: 15 Philip Orffer, 14 Keanan van Wyk, 13 Peet Schoeman (captain), 12 Franco Naude, 11 Divan Rossouw, 10 Tinus de Beer, 9 Theo Maree, 8 Juandre Swanepoel, 7 Marco van Staaden, 6 Johannes Meintjies, 5 Ashton Fortuin, 4 Jason Jenkins, 3 Jacobus Holtzhauzen, 2 Vuyo Khathide, 1 Xander van Wyk.
Replacements: 16 Alandre van Rooyen, 17 Madot Mabokela, 18 Sam Mitchell, 19 Denzil Hill, 20 Visser Impi, 21 Brendan Owen, 22 Lourens Pretorius, 23 Stefaan Grundlingh.