The Junior Boks thrashed Argentina 72-14 in Tbilisi on Thursday to qualify for the U20 Championship semi-finals. MARIETTE ADAMS reports.
The result sees South Africa win Pool C and set up a semi-final against defending champions England next Tuesday. New Zealand will meet France in the other semi-final.
All in all, it was a mighty impressive performance from the Junior Boks, especially when one considers that Argentina had nine players in their team who were part of last year's squad that beat the Junior Boks twice (once in the pool stage and again in the bronze medal playoff).
The South Africans hadn't been at their best coming into this match – having drawn with France and beaten Georgia – but showed little regard for their opposition, going on an 11-try rampage.
In a helter-skelter start, Argentina enjoyed the lion's share of possession, but unfortunately for them, this was the game that saw South Africa's forwards come to the party. The Junior Boks' defence was boosted by the pack's superb performance. They successfully counter-rucked at will, providing an excellent platform from which the backline could launch.
A brace of tries to Johan Grobbelaar inside the opening 10 minutes gave the Junior Boks a 12-0 lead.
Argentina responded with a converted effort, before a moment of brilliance from Damian Willemse served to reinstate South Africa's 12-point advantage. Willemse received the ball on the right-hand touchline, drew the last defender and then left him in his wake with a lethal step before firing a no-look back-flick pass to Gianni Lombard on his outside for the try. Argentina remained defiant and added a second try, but that would be their last of the game.
By contrast, the Junior Boks would go on to score eight more tries. Two came before the break as they pushed their lead out to 31-14.
The second half was an obliteration, as the Junior Boks ran Argentina ragged.
Argentina's ill-disciplined nature didn't help their cause either as they committed two yellow-card offences. After they were reduced to 14 early in the second half, the Junior Boks' standout performer at the tournament, No 8 Juarno Augustus, pounced to score his first try of the game and fourth in the competition.
And the onslaught didn't let up, as the Junior Boks relentlessly ran the ball back at Argentina's hapless defence. Lombard completed his brace in the 52nd minute, before scrumhalf Embrose Papier finished off another exquisite team effort. That try may as well been awarded to three Junior Bok players, as Papier, Bosch and Augustus all had their hands on the ball in the in-goal area.
There was a point-scoring lull in the game between minutes 59 and 72, but then fullback Manie Libbok, and replacement backs Francois de Villers and Jean-Luc Cilliers all ghosted through the defence to score the final three tries of the match and cap off an emphatic performance.
Junior Boks – Tries: Johan Grobbelaar (2), Gianni Lombard (2), Damian Willemse, Yaw Penxe, Juarno Augustus, Embrose Papier, Manie Libbok, Francois de Villiers, Jean-Luc Cilliers. Conversions: Curwin Bosch (7). Penalty: Bosch.
Argentina U20 – Try: Felix Luna, Tomas Malanos. Conversions: Tomas Albornoz (2).
Junior Springboks – 15 Manie Libbok, 14 Yaw Penxe, 13 Wandisile Simelane, 12 Damian Willemse, 11 Gianni Lombard, 10 Curwin Bosch, 9 Embrose Papier, 8 Juarno Augustus, 7 Ernst van Rhyn (c), 6 Len Massyn, 5 Ruben van Heerden, 4 Hendre Stassen, 3 Carlu Sadie, 2 Johan Grobbelaar, 1 Kwenzo Blose.
Subs: 16 Gerhard Steenekamp, 17 Daniel Jooste, 18 Wikus Groenewald, 19 Salmaan Moerat, 20 Muller Uys, 21 Francois de Villiers, 22 Stedman Gans, 23 Jeanluc Cilliers.
Argentina U20 – Juan Pablo Castro, 14 Tomas Malanos, 13 Facundo Ferrario, 12 Felix Luna, 11 Bautista Delguy, 10 Tomas Albornoz, 9 Matias Sauze, 8 Nicolas Walker 7 Marcos Kremer, 6 Bautista Stavile, 5 Lucas Paulos, 4 Nahuel Milan, 3 Jeremias Tarter, 1 Rodrigo Martinez.
Subs: 16 Jose Luis Gonzalez, 17 Santiago Pulella, 18 Alejandro Luna, 19 Franco Molina, 20 Juan Molina, 21 Gonzalo Garcia, 22 Juan Daireaux, 23 Teo Castiglioni.
Photo: World Rugby