The Junior Springboks on Wednesday night beat New Zealand in their last pool match to qualify for the semi-finals of the World Rugby U20 Championships in Argentina where they will face France on Monday.
It is a great and pleasant achievement for a side that wasn’t given much chance to be successful in the tournament. They did it by playing with 14 men for 30 minutes of the contest which they won 25-18 after collecting three yellow cards en route to the victory.
One of those was early in the second half when an early tackle by resulted in a penalty try for the Kiwis, their only try until six minutes before the end when they closed the deficit. The Junior Boks were then only five points ahead and New Zealand within striking distance of victory.
But resolute tackling not only kept New Zealand side at bay but also gave the Junior Boks a penalty less than two minutes before full time. It was converted by Sanele Nohamba to take a possible win from outside New Zealand’s reach.
The Kiwis were ousted from the competition by the loss They needed at least a bonus point to advance to the play-offs, with France watching this clash with bated breath as their progress was dependant on New Zealand or South Africa’s elimination.
♦ The Junior Springboks win was built on a powerful scrum that destroyed New Zealand’s attacking options and also led to a number of penalties against them. The South Africans’ defence, when the opposition was in possession, was also outstanding with Dylan Richardson at the forefront of an impressive effort around the breakdowns when the New Zealand U20s wanted to break out.
What was worrying, however, were poor handling, losing the ball in the tackle an option-taking on attack when the same old head-down-and-drive option was followed ten ten phases on end before the ball was predictably spilled.
♦ The Junior Springboks play France in the second semi-final at the Racecourse Stadium in Rosario on Monday (20:30 SA time) while home team Argentina will meet Australia in the other semi-final at 18:00.
Junior Springboks (19) 25: Tries: Vaughen Isaacs, JJ van der Mescht. Penalties: Jaden Hendrikse (3), Sanele Nohamba (2).
New Zealand U20 (3) 17: Tries: Penalty try, Lalomilo Lalomilo. Conversion: Fergus Burke. Penalty: Burke.