Jurich Claasens scored a late try to give SA Schools a dramatic 43-40 win against Wales U18 in Paarl on Friday. DYLAN JACK reports.
In a heart-racing final 10 minutes, both sides seemed to have scored what they thought was the winning try. First, SA Schools hooker JJ Kotze went over from the back of a maul – SA Schools’ go-to weapon throughout the match.
However, Wales flank Jac Morgan showed quick thinking when he won a turnover near the SA line, saw nobody ahead of him and quick-tapped to run in for his second try.
To their credit, the SA Schools side kept fighting and got themselves into the Wales 22 before Claasens spotted a gap in the defence, picked the ball up from the back of a ruck and only just managed to dot the ball down for the winning try.
Those closing minutes encapsulated the match as a whole, with the lead changing hands throughout.
Wales definitely started the stronger of the two sides, grabbing tries through centres Aneurin Owen and Joe Roberts as well as tighthead prop Luke Yendle.
SA responded through wing Stravino Jacobs, inside centre Mnombo Zwelindaba and Kotze, with No 8 Celimpilo Gumede scoring late in the half to give them a 22-21 lead at the break.
The hosts were the better side in the second half, but some silly errors on defence allowed Wales to keep bouncing back.
After captain Muzi Manyike was held up over the line, flyhalf Juan Mostert scored SA’s fifth and it started to look like they were hitting their stride.
However, Wales hit back through Morgan’s first. Flyhalf Sam Costelow, who had an excellent all-round game, charged down a poor kick from SA fullback Rynhardt Jonker and put his side ahead.
Claasens came off the bench to win a nail-biter for SA Schools, who will go on to face France in Stellenberg on Tuesday.
SA Schools – Tries: Stravino Jacobs, JJ Kotze (2), Mnombo Zwelindaba, Celimpilo Gumede, Juan Mostert, Jurich Claasens. Conversion: Thomas Bursey (2), Darren Hendricks (2).
Wales U18 – Tries: Aneurin Owen, Joe Roberts, Luke Yendle, Jac Morgan (2), Sam Costelow. Conversions: Sam Costelow (4), Evan Lloyd.
SA Schools – 15 Rynhardt Jonker, 14 Lwandile Menze, 13 Muzilikazi Manyike (c), 12 Mnombo Zwelindaba, 11 Stravino Jacobs, 10 Juan Mostert, 9 Thomas Bursey, 8 Celimpilo Gumede, 7 Mihlali Mgolodela, 6 Keketso Morabe, 5 Emile van Heerden, 4 Sibusiso Sangweni, 3 Herman Agenbag, 2 Jean-Jacques Kotze, 1 Dewald Donald.
Subs: 16 Jacques Goosen, 17 Thabiso Mdletshe, 18 Hanru Jacobs, 19 Uzile Tele, 20 Evan Roos, 21 De Wet Marais, 22 Jurich Claasens, 23 Darren Hendricks.
Photo: Ashley Vlotman/Gallo Images