The Junior Springboks scored four tries in their 26-12 win against England in Worcester on Friday. DYLAN JACK reports.
It was South Africa’s third consecutive win on their UK tour, which served as preparation for the World Rugby U20 Championship. They also beat Scotland 41-3 in Edinburgh and Wales 41-5 in Cardiff.
The visitors got off to the perfect start against England, scoring through wing David Kriel, who dived over in the corner to finish off a good team try. Fullback Gianni Lombard kicked the conversion.
However, England quickly recomposed themselves and put pressure on the Junior Boks, which eventually resulted in Lombard getting a yellow card for an early tackle.
While the Junior Boks did well to see out most of the time that Lombard was off, they eventually conceded as England worked their way forward and wing Ben Loader did excellently to shrug off a number of poor tackles to score out wide.
The South Africans regained the lead when, after a strong 15m maul and a number of forward carries, scrumhalf Rewan Kruger spotted a gap which he sprinted through to score. Lombard again nailed the conversion to give the Junior Boks a 14-7 half-time lead.
The Junior Boks started the second half well, forcing England into plenty of tackles, with Kruger and Lombard keeping the home side trapped in their half with some clever kicks in behind the defence. Hooker Schalk Erasmus was able to take advantage, driving over after a 5m maul.
Going into the final quarter, England responded through a maul try from replacement hooker Henry Walker to bring themselves back to within seven points of South Africa.
However, with five minutes remaining, centre Rickus Pretorius read an England attack brilliantly to intercept and seal the game for the Junior Boks.
‘I am very proud,’ said SA U20 coach Chean Roux afterwards. ‘This was our third match on tour against a fresh English side, and the players showed tremendous character, so all credit to them.
‘It was a great team effort. I thought we had the upper hand in the scrums and the lineouts at times, and sometimes they had it, which just shows. But we were lucky to get through it. We really showed great character.’
Roux was confident that his charges were on the right track for the World Rugby U20 Championship, which will be hosted in the south of France from 30 May to 17 June.
‘This most definitely gives us confidence,’ he said. ‘We wanted a tough tour with three challenging games, and that is exactly what we got before the tournament.’
England – Tries: Ben Loader, Henry Walker. Conversion: James Grayson
Junior Boks – Tries: David Kriel, Rewan Kruger, Schalk Erasmus, Rickus Pretorius. Conversions: Gianni Lombard (3).
Junior Springboks – 15 Gianni Lombard, 14 David Kriel, 13 Wandisile Simelane, 12 Rikus Pretorius, 11 Tyrone Green, 10 David Coetzer, 9 Rewan Kruger, 8 Muller Uys, 7 PJ Steenkamp, 6 Dian Schoonees, 5 Ben-Jason Dixon, 4 Salmaan Moerat (c), 3 Sazi Sandi, 2 Schalk Erasmus, 1 Nathan McBeth.
Subs: 16 Daniel Jooste, 17 Tiaan van der Merwe, 18 Asenathi Ntlabakanye, 19 Phendulani Buthelezi, 20 Ruan Nortje, 21 Jack Hart, 22 Lyle Hendricks, 23 Sihle Njezula.
Photo: Michael Steele/Getty Images