The Junior Boks produced an improved second-half display to see off the Varsity Cup Dream Team 31-24 in Stellenbosch.
Dawie Theron's team were thoroughly tested in their first run-out of the year and might well have been on the receiving end of a defeat had the Varsity side opted for poles on a number of occasions through the match.
As it was, they were outscored by four tries to three, with the penalties from flyhalf Ernst Stapelberg and Brandon Thomson proving the difference in the end.
The Varsity Cup side dominated territory and possession in the first half and deservedly went into the break leading 12-10 thanks to a penalty try and a try from fullback Rhyno Smith. Theron wouldn't have been pleased with his side's performance, especially at the set pieces, where they struggled against the more experienced varsity players.
However, the second half brought with it a more structured approach from the Junior Boks, who hit the front after replacement hooker Jan van der Merwe went over from the back of a rolling maul.
A brilliant individual try from scrumhalf Dillon Smit brought the Varsity Cup side back into the match, but a penalty try and yellow card for replacement prop Dayaan van der Westhuizen left Franco Smith's side with a mountain to climb in the final quarter.
They showed great spirit to hit back with another try from the rolling maul, despite being a man down, but two penalties from Thomson secured a hard-fought win for the Junior Boks.
Junior Springboks – Tries: Daniel du Plessis, Jan van der Merwe, penalty try. Conversions: Ernst Stapelberg, Brandon Thomson. Penalties: Stapelberg (2), Thomson (2).
Varsity Cup Dream Team – Tries: Penalty try, Rhyno Smith, Dillon Smit, Elandré Hugget. Conversions: Innocent Radebe, Rhyno Smith.
Junior Springboks – 15 Warrick Gelant, 14 Kanyo Ngcukana, 13 JT Jackson, 12 Daniel du Plessis, 11 Leolin Zas, 10 Ernst Stapelberg, 9 Ivan van Zyl, 8 Hanro Liebenberg, 7 Dan du Preez, 6 CJ Velleman, 5 RG Snyman, 4 Abongile Nonkontwana, 3 Ruan Kramer, 2 Joseph Dweba, 1 Ox Nche.
Subs: 16 Mzamo Majola, 17 Jan van der Merwe, 18 Frans van Wyk, 19 Jason Jenkins, 20 Jean-Luc du Preez, 21 Marco Janse van Vuuren, 22 Brandon Thomson, 23 Grant Hermanus.
Varsity Cup Dream Team – 15 Rhyno Smith, 14 Maphutha Dolo, 13 Rowayne Beukman, 12 Johan Deysel, 11 Jean-Paul Lewis, 10 Innocent Radebe, 9 Dillon Smit, 8 Jeandré Rudolph , 7 Henco Venter, 6 Wiaan Liebenberg, 5 Reniel Hugo (c), 4 Irne Herbst, 3 John-Roy Jenkinson, 2 Chad Solomon, 1 Johan Smith.
Subs: 16 Nqobisizwe Mxoli, 17 Elandré Hugget, 18 Dayan van der Westhuizen, 19 Walt Steenkamp, 20 Gerhard Olivier, 21 Mthokozisi Mkhabela, 22 Johnny Welthagen, 23 Lihleli Xoli.
Photo: Carl Fourie/Gallo Images