Progress won their third major trophy of the year when they beat the University of Johannesburg (UJ) in the Cup final of the fifth annual Nelson Mandela Bay Sevens rugby tournament in Port Elizabeth on Saturday.

The Uitenhage side, who won the Eastern Province Grand Challenge league and Sectional Cup competitions this season, racked up three tries to two in beating the students 21-12.

Progress’ Kelvano King was named Player of the Tournament after sharing the trophy for the most tries with team-mate Andile Witbooi.

The home side, who played the first half into another strong wind, made their supporters sweat as they quickly fell 12-0 behind after tries by UJ captain Juan Swanepoel (unconverted) and Kobus Janse van Rensburg.

Derrick Memane, who was a late replacement for Progress, provided the turning point of the match with a brace of tries. Both were converted to send the home side into the break with a two-point lead.

The eventual champions stepped up a gear in the second half and enjoyed much of the possession, but were unable to convert at least four try-scoring opportunities after the final passes went astray.

Progress all but sealed the win when Darren Donnelly finished off a move down the left-hand side. The conversion put Progress out of reach and gave them the freedom to show their flair in the final minutes, but they were unable to breach UJ’s defence again.

Former sevens Bok and Progress captain Deon Booysen said the experience of having played in several finals this season stood them in good stead.

“We didn’t panic when we fell behind early on. The presence of our senior players was also a calming influence.”

Booysen said it was crucial to get onto the scoreboard in the first half. “It gave us the momentum we needed and a kick-start for the second half.”

Earlier in the day, Progress easily disposed of Bobbies Bloem (31-0) in the quarters before edging out Junk Yard Dogs (10-7) in the semis.

UJ reached the final courtesy of wins over Kruisfontein (24-12) in the quarters and Crusaders (19-10) in the semis.

African Bombers edged out Bobbies Bloem (14-10) in the men’s plate final and in the bowl final Ezee Fana downed Ammosal Rugby (31-14).

Despatch were awarded the win in the shield final after Gardens were disqualified.

Brandwag made a clean sweep of the schools’ categories by claiming both the U/19 and U/15 titles.

They demolished Ezee Fana (52-7) in the U/19 final after disposing of neighbours Daniel Pienaar (42-0) in the quarters and Marlow (21-15) in the last four. Ezee Fana reached the final after wins over Lynx (7-5) and Despatch (12-7).

Llewellan Pieterse from Brandwag was the leading try-scorer and Player of the Tournament.

Brandwag’s U/15 side, who reached the last two by virtue of victories over Lynx (28-10) in the quarters and Despatch (19-5) in the semis, got the better of Marlow (19-10) in the final. Marlow qualified for the final after wins over Otto du Plessis (21-7) and Ezee Fana (19-17).

The trophies for most tries and Player of the Tournament went to Tiaan Daniels from Framesby.

Junk Yard Dogs took the spoils in the 10-man Old Boys’ section after accounting for Queen’s Barbarians (52-0)

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Coetzee Gouws
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Nelson Mandela Bay Sevens