The Junior Springboks defeated Australia 46-13 in Calvisano and will play England in the World Rugby U20 Championship semi-finals, writes MARIETTE ADAMS.
Both the South Africans and Australians had accumulated two bonus-point victories against Samoa and hosts Italy before this pool-deciding encounter. But while many predicted a close contest, the Junior Boks delivered a clinical performance to sweep Australia aside to top Pool B and set up a semi-final clash with defending champions England on Monday.
Dawie Theron's team laid down the marker as early as the fourth minute when openside flank Jacques Vermeulen crashed over the line after taking a perfect, flat pass from scrumhalf Ivan van Zyl. Australia would close the deficit with a penalty goal by flyhalf Andrew Deegan, but it turned out to be their only points of the half.
The Junior Boks continued to trouble the Aussies up front and went on to add a second try in similar fashion, when prop Ox Nche latched onto Van Zyl's flat pass and forced his way over the tryline. Flyhalf Brandon Thomson successfully negotiated the conversion, before goaling a second penalty for a healthy 20-3 lead.
If the Australians were rattled in the first half, they were blown away in the second.
With the Aussies pressing shortly after the interval, Nche put in a huge hit close to his own tryline that directly resulted in a third try for the South Africans. The ball squirted loose and the Junior Boks ran the length of the field with wing Khanyo Ngcukana finishing off behind the posts.
After an initial warning, Australia lost loosehead prop Cameron Orr to a yellow card for scrumming in on the angle in the 50th minute and conceded two tries in his absence.
First Thomson stepped his way through the Aussie defence for the bonus-point touchdown, before lock Jason Jenkins showed some pace down the left flank to slide over in the corner.
The Australians did manage to score twice late in the match, but only after the Junior Boks were reduced to 14 and then 13 men for dangerous play, with inside centre Duncan Paia'aua and captain Andrew Kellaway the scorers.
But Leolin Zas's effort under the sticks, in-between the two Australian tries, confirmed the Junior Boks' semi-final status along with England, New Zealand and France.
Junior Springboks – Tries: Jacques Vermeulen, Ox Nche, Khanyo Ngcukana, Brandon Thomson, Jason Jenkins, Leolin Zas. Conversions: Thomson (4), Thinus de Beer. Penalties: Thomson (2).
Australia U20 – Try: Duncan Paia'aua, Andrew Kellaway. Penalty: Andrew Deegan.
Junior Springboks – 15 Warrick Gelant, 14 Khanyo Ngcukana, 13 EW Viljoen, 12 Daniel du Plessis, 11 Leolin Zas, 10 Brendon Thomson, 9 Ivan van Zyl, 8 Hanro Liebenberg, 7 Jean-Luc du Plessis, 6 Jacques Vermeulen, 5 RG Snyman, 4 Jason Jenkins, 3 Thomas du Toit, 2 Joseph Dweba, 1 Ox Nche.
Subs: 16 Jan van der Merwe, 17 Mzamo Majola, 18 Frans van Wyk, 19 Hyron Andrews, 20 Dan du Preez, 21 Marco Jansen van Vuren, 22 Tinus de Beer, 23 Grant Hermanus.
Australia U20 – 15 Jonah Placid, 14 Tyson Davis, 13 Sione Tuipoloutu, 12 Duncan Paia'aua, 11 Andrew Kellaway (c), 10 Andrew Deegan, 9 James Tuttle, 8 Adam Korczyk, 7 Michael Gunn, 6 Brad Wilkin, 5 Lukhan Lealaiauloto-tui, 4 Ned Hanigan, 3 Matt Sandell, 2 Folau Fainga'a, 1 Cameron Orr.
Subs: 16 Fereti Saaga, 17 Connal McInerney, 18 Tyrel Lomax, 19 Riley Winter, 20 Sam Croke, 21 Harry Nucifora, 22 James Dalgleish, 23 Campbell Magnay.
Photo: Roger Sedres/Image SA