Junior Springbok coach Bafana Nhleko feels there is a lot of room for improvement and far more to come from his side after their U20 Summer Series win over England.
The Junior Boks set the tempo for a breathtaking contest with a try inside three minutes as Sacha Mngomezulu’s inch-perfect cross-kick fell perfectly for Suleiman Hartzenberg.
A further four scores followed as Nhleko’s side triumphed 30-22, in their first international fixture for nearly 12 months.
“First game for some of our boys, so we’re quite happy with the win,” said Nhleko .
“You could see it was our first game and you could also see it was England’s first game. We were a bit rusty in many ways and the important thing was just to get through the game and we are quite happy with the win.
“Performance-wise we were not quite where we needed to be, and it’s not being harsh or critical. I am happy for the boys but there are lots of things that we could do better and that’s part of the learning curve for the boys.”
Mngomezulu delivered an eye-catching performance at flyhalf, opting to kick in the early stages as South Africa settled into the contest before a more expansive and aggressive running game took shape.
“It’s a bit early to give away the secrets but we know what he’s capable of,” said Nhleko, discussing his captain’s superb early kick assist.
“The biggest thing for the boys in this game, which I’m quite happy about, is that any kick is only as good as the chase, and I thought the chase from Sully [Hartzenberg] was pretty good and that gave us a bit of belief in the game.”
Mngomezulu’s next brief is to lead his side against Six Nations champions Ireland on Wednesday, and Nhleko insists that his team can raise their game as they look to make it two wins from two and set up a potential group decider with France.
“It doesn’t get any easier, with the top two in the Six Nations, so that’s going to be tougher,” added Nhleko.
“What’s important for us is how we recover and to get our detail right so we are physically and mentally up for the next one. I think the boys now know the level that’s required for them to perform here.
“We saw [on Friday] that if you don’t take your opportunities you suffer, if your discipline isn’t there you suffer. So, there’s a couple things we need to sharpen up on.”
Following squad recovery and match reviews on Saturday at their team hotel in Verona, the Junior Boks returned to training with a field session on Sunday.
Photo: Ben Brady/INPHO