Argentina thrashed the Junior Boks 49-19 in Salford on Saturday to claim bronze in the World Rugby U20 Championship, while England beat Ireland 45-21 in the final. MARIETTE ADAMS reports.
It was the second time South Africa had lost to Argentina in this tournament following their 19-13 pool defeat.
Both teams had been comprehensively beaten in the semi-finals and it was Los Pumitas who finished with a flourish.
The Junior Boks dominated possession and territory early on to lead 12-0, but were outplayed for the most of the last hour.
Flyhalf Domingo Miotti, who had orchestrated Argentina’s pool win over SA U20, again featured prominently as he marshalled the attack and was successful with all eight of his attempts at goal, while captain Juan Cruz Mallia scored a hat-trick of tries.
Early tries by flyhalf Manie Libbok and winger Edwill van der Merwe put the Junior Boks in charge, but Argentina gradually worked their way into the game through their forwards. Once they got inside the opposition 22, Domingo skillfully slid a grubber kick through the rush defence and Cruz Mallia scored.
South Africa, with a clear advantage in the scrums, continued with their ball-in-hand approach and kicked for touch when the three points were on offer. It paid dividends when hooker Jan-Henning Campher rumbled over from the back of a rolling maul.
But lock Ruben de Villiers was then yellow-carded for a clumsy challenge in the air and Argentina added 10 points while he was off, via another try by Cruz Mallia and a penalty by Miotti to trail 19-17 at the break.
The second half was one-way traffic, with Argentina crossing for four tries, but it was their unwavering defence that set them apart. They also bullied SA U20 at the breakdown.
Replacement Marianno Romanini scored the all-important first try after the break as Argentina snuck into the lead. From there it was all Los Pumitas, as hooker Gaspar Baldunciel and No 8 Facundo Dominguez got their names on the scoresheet, while Miotti slotted two penalties.
Cruz Mallia then completed the rout with his hat-trick try in the 80th minute.
In the final, England were crowned U20 world champions for the third time in four years with an emphatic 45-21 victory over Ireland. England captain and flyhalf Harry Mallinder contributed 23 points for the home side via two tries, five conversions and a penalty.
Junior Boks – Tries: Manie Libbok, Edwill van der Merwe, Jan-Henning Campher. Conversions: Curwin Bosch (2).
Argentina U20 – Tries: Juan Cruz Mallia (3), Mariano Romanini, Gaspar Baldunciel, Facundo Dominguez. Conversions: Hugo Miotti (5). Penalties: Miotti (3).
Junior Boks – 15 Curwin Bosch, 14 Stedman Gans, 13 Franco Naude, 12 JT Jackson, 11 Edwill van der Merwe, 10 Manie Libbok, 9 Marco Jansen van Vuren, 8 Junior Pokomela (c), 7 Cobus Wiese, 6 Zain Davids, 5 Eli Snyman, 4 Ruben de Villiers, 3 Carlü Sadie, 2 Jan-Henning Campher, 1 Franco van den Berg.
Subs: 16 Tango Balekile, 17 Kwenzo Blose, 18 Nicolaas Oosthuizen, 19 Eduard Zandberg, 20 Denzel Hill, 21 James Hall, 22 Benhard Janse van Rensburg, 23 Keanu Vers.
Argentina U20 – 15 Martin Elias, 14 Jose Barros Sosa, 13 Juan Cruz Mallia (c), 12 Teo Castiglioni, 11 Julian Widmer, 10 Domingo Miotti, 9 Lautaro Velez, 8 Facundo Dominguez, 7 Conrado Roura, 6 Vicente Boronat, 5 Ignacio Calas, 4 Marcos Kremer, 3 Santiago Medrano, 2 Gaspar Baldunciel, 1 Juan Enriquez.
Subs: 16 Roman Pretz, 17 Ruben de Villiers, 18 Gonzalo Del Pazo, 19 Christian Milan, 20 Mariano Romanini, 21 Patricio Baronini, 22 Tomas Malanos, 23 Bautista Delguy.
Photo: Nigel Roddis/Getty Images