The Junior Springboks scored seven tries to clinch a 48-20 bonus-point victory over Georgia in Rosario on Saturday.
Much as in their opening game against Scotland, South Africa were nowhere near perfect, and definitely far off their best. They were erratic in the opening 20 minutes, during which they made six handling errors, the decision-making was daft, the discipline was ill-fated and the flyhalf failed to take control properly, with that responsibility falling to scrumhalf Jaden Hendrikse, who was also on kicking duty.
And yet, despite all their shortcomings, the Junior Boks found a way to get over the line against the physical Georgians, who proved they are no walkovers.
Lock JJ van der Mescht and centre Rikus Pretorius were standout players for the Junior Boks, but it was bulky openside flank Dylan Richardson who stole the show with a magnificent individual performance. He scored a brace, set up another with a superb offload off the ground, made nuisance at the breakdown and was an absolute menace on defence.
There was a try either way early in the contest, with South Africa taking a slender two-point lead thanks to the addition of a successful conversion. Georgia then frustrated the Junior Boks as they closed up shop defensively. The boys in green would land a double blow when their sustained pressure was eventually rewarded with two tries in the last five minutes of the half for a 21-5 lead. Prop Asenathi Ntlabakanye first bulldozed his way over, followed by a touchdown from Van der Mescht on the back of a powerful scrum in midfield.
Following the introduction of the new halfback-axis of David Coetzer and Sanele Nohamba, the Junior Boks injected more pace and power into their attack, which Georgia couldn’t contain or match.
The Junior Boks added eight more points via a penalty and a try to get their tally into double digits. But despite conceding a second yellow card, they upped the intensity to run in three more tries, including a second from Richardson to wrap up the result.
Richardson’s pop pass off the ground released Pretorius for a score. That was followed by a late flurry of touchdowns from diminutive fullback Thaakir Abrahams, Richardson, the fleet-footed Blitzbok Angelo Davids and Coetzer, to ensure a runaway victory, despite Georgia scoring with the last play of the match.
Junior Springboks – Tries: Dylan Richardson (2), Asenathi Ntlabakanye, JJ van der Mescht, Rikus Pretorius, Thaakir Abrahams, Angelo Davids. Conversions: Jaden Hendrikse (3), Sanele Nohamba.
Georgia – Tries: Otar Lashkhi (2), Teimuraz Tchichinadze. Conversion: Tedo Abzhandadze. Penalty: Abzhandadze.
Junior Springboks – 15 Vaughan Isaacs, 14 Angelo Davids, 13 Marnus Potgieter, 12 Rikus Pretorius, 11 Caleb Dingaan, 10 James Mollentze, 9 Jaden Hendrikse, 8 Phendulani Buthelezi , 7 Celimpilo Gumede, 6 Dylan Richardson, 5 Emile van Heerden, 4 JJ van der Mescht, 3 Asenathi Ntlabakanye, 2 Fezokuhle Mbatha, 1 Dian Bleuler.
Subs: 16 Dameon Venter, 17 Kudzwai Dube, 18 Keagan Glade, 19 Thabiso Mdletshe, 20 Elrigh Louw, 21 Jaco Labuschagne, 22 Thaakir Abrahams, 23 Sanele Nohamba, 24 Sibusiso Sangweni, 25 Mnombo Zwelendaba, 26 David Coetzer, 27 David Kriel.
Georgia – TBC.
Photo: Amilcar Orfali/Getty Images