Lock Ruben van Heerden scored a brace as the Junior Boks beat the Varsity Cup Dream Team 50-19 at Coetzenburg Stadium in Stellenbosch on Tuesday. MARIETTE ADAMS reports.
That scoreline is in no way a true reflection of how the game played out.As in their previous warm-up matches, this was another stern examination, which the SA U20 side passed with the minimum requirements.
Apart from a few standout individual performances from the likes of Van Heerden, and halfbacks Damian Willemse and Embrose Papier who didn’t do their chances of selection in the final squad any harm, there were few other shining lights for coach Chean Roux.
In this – their final game before the U20 Championship – the Junior Boks’ lineouts were malfunctioning, they were outplayed at the breakdown and the Dream Team exposed their defensive weaknesses, especially in the first half.
The SA U20 side started off brightly as they raced into the lead with a try by Van Heerden shortly after kick-off. But the Dream Team hit back with three unanswered tries to take a 19-7 lead, while the Junior Boks were reduced to 14 in that time when Carlű Sadie was yellow- carded.
Recognising that they won’t be able to breach the Dream Team’s defensive line until they were back to full complement, Willemse decided to play territorially and executed an inch-perfect kick that rolled into touch in the right-hand corner. From there, the ball went loose at the back of the lineout and the Junior Boks pounced. They strung together a couple of phases through the forwards and when the Dream Team conceded a penalty, Papier took a quick tap and with a brilliant back-flick released big Salmaan Moerat, who thundered over the tryline.
No sooner had Sadie returned to the playing field, the Junior Boks were in again with Van Heerden completing his brace to level the scores. Fullback Gianni Lombard added the conversion as the Junior Boks took a 21-19 lead into the break.
There was a slight improvement in the Junior Boks’ general play and discipline in the second half. They played with more fluency on attack and were tighter in defence.
A 10-point haul early in the third quarter pushed the Junior Boks out to a comfortable lead, before Willemse dazzled with a hip-swerve, which flummoxed two defenders, to score.
Nama Xaba and Manie Libbok added the finishing touches to the scoreboard with late tries before the referee called time on the match.
Apart from the performance and the result, coach Roux will be concerned about prop PJ Botha, who appeared to have suffered a serious injury and had to be taken off the field on the medical cart.
Junior Boks – Tries: Ruben van Heerden (2), Salmaan Moerat, Muller Uys, Damian Willemse, Nama Xaba, Manie Libbok. Conversions: Gianni Lombard (6). Penalty: Lombard.
Varsity Cup Dream Team – Tries: Duncan Saal, Craig Barry, Loftus Morrison. Conversions: Tinus de Beer (2).
Junior Boks – 15 Gianni Lombard, 14 Manie Libbok, 13 Stedman Gans, 12 Wayne van der Bank, 11 Wandisile Simelane, 10 Damian Willemse, 9 Embrose Papier, 8 Len Massyn, 7 Muller Uys, 6 Zain Davids (c), 5 Ruden van Heerden, 4 Salmaan Moerat, 3 Carlű Sadie, 2 Johan Grobbelaar, 1 Kwenzo Blose.
Subs: 16 PJ Botha, 17 Gerhard Steenkamp, 18 Wikus Groenewald, 19 Hendre Stassen, 20 Nama Xaba, 21 Hacjivah Dayimani, 22 Rewen Kruger, 23 Jean-Luc Cilliers.
Varsity Cup Dream Team – 15 Craig Barry (c), 14 Sibahle Maxwane, 13 Aphiwe Dyantyi, 12 Impi Visser, 11 Duncan Saal, 10 Tinus de Beer, 9 Andre Warner, 8 Kevin Kaba, 7 Phumzile Maqondwana, 6 Daniël Maartens, 5 Loftus Morrison, 4 Aston Fortuin, 3 Nico du Plessis, 2 Wilmar Arnoldi, 1 Andrew Beerwinkel.
Subs: 16 Daniël Maartens, 17 Luvuyo Pupuma, 18 Dillon Roy Bakos, 19 Johan Momsen, 20 Chris Massyn, 21 Herschel Jantjies, 22 Ernst Stapelberg, 23 Michal Haznar.
Photo: Carl Fourie/Gallo Images