Junior Springbok coach Chean Roux described his team’s 35-8 defeat against England at the Butts Park Arena in Coventry on Friday as a tough lesson as they continued their preparations for the World Rugby U20 Championship in Argentina in June.
The Junior Springboks scored a try and a penalty goal in the match, while a late charge by England - in which they scored three tries in the dying minutes - saw them score five tries after holding a slender 14-8 lead at the break.
“It definitely was a tough and physical game,” said Roux. “We were totally outplayed; they were the better side on the day.”
He added: “We will have played five matches such as this before the World Rugby U20 Championship. This was a tough lesson, but that is what the competition is about.”
The Junior Springboks will face Wales in their last international friendly before the Argentina spectacle, which will be hosted at the Vale Resort outside Cardiff on Tuesday, 30 April, and Roux said it would be another challenging test.
“Wales is going to be a tough game as well,” said the coach. “They beat England in the U20 Six Nations so we will need to be ready for them.”
It was a physical encounter from the outset with England striking first in the opening minutes of the first half through Josh Hodge, who received the ball in space, and he slotted over the conversion to push them into a 7-0 lead.
Junior Springbok prop Asenathi Ntlabakanye added the visitors’ first try almost 20 minutes later as he forced his way over the chalk after some solid forward play, and the team followed this up with a penalty goal by scrumhalf Jaden Hendrikse, which nudged them one point ahead.
The SAU20’s lost winger Marnus Potgieter to a yellow card soon after, and the hosts took advantage of this with Olly Adkins adding their second try minutes before halftime to go 14-8 ahead.
The teams continued to run hard at one another in the third quarter – in which England were reduced to 14 men as Jon Kpoku was sent to the sin-bin - and they both created try-scoring chances but were denied by tenacious defence.
The hosts, however, managed to break through late in the match and finished strongly with Connor Doherty, Joel Kpoku and Izaiha Moore-Aiono scoring in quick succession to secure the 35-8 victory.
Junior Springboks(8) 8: Try: Asenathi Ntlabakanye. Penalty Goal: Jaden Hendrikse.
England (14) 35: Tries: Josh Hodge, Olly Adkins, Connor Doherty, Joel Kpoku, Izaiha Moore-Aiono. Conversions: Josh Hodge (5).
Photo by Gerry O’Sullivan.