Junior Boks halted by England U20
U20 CHAMPIONSHIP REPORT: Defending Champions England were forced to work hard for a dramatic 24-22 win against the Junior Boks in the semifinals of the U20 Championship in Georgia.
England had a five-point lead going into the break after Zach Mercer and Alex Mitchell crossed for converted tries which Max Malins kicked along with a further penalty.
South Africa responded though with Juarno Augustus powering over either side of England’s tries with Curwin Bosch converting the first of those tries.
A converted try from Ruben Van Heerden and five points from the boot of Bosch.
England took an early lead, captain Mercer going over under the posts after 14 phases of play which Malins converted.
Juarno Augustus powered over shortly after and Bosch converted to level the game.
Superb retention and a fine break and offload from Malins after 15 phases saw Mitchell go over for his third try of the tournament. Malins converted for 14-7.
Malins sent over a penalty midway through the first half for 17-7.
Gabriel Ibitoye’s tackle on South Africa fullback Manie Libbok epitomised England’s workrate in the opening 30 minutes, after chasing Malins’ punt upfield he tackled and dragged his opponent into touch.
Crucially though England conceded a penalty two minutes before the break and Bosch kicked his side into England’s 22m.
From the resulting line-out the Junior Boks went through several phases before Augustus bundled over in similar fashion to his first.
The conversion was missed and England headed into half-time 17-12 up.
England came close to adding to their lead after the break but it was South Africa who scored next with their forward again powering them to the line before Van Heerden bundled over.
Malins had an opportunity to put England back in front but his penalty drifted across the face of the posts.
Bosch gave South Africa a five-point lead but with minutes remaining Mercer produced a moment of individual brilliance to power through several tackles and barge over under the posts.
Malins converted to give England the lead and despite a nervy finish they held on to reach their fourth final in five years.
Tries: Mercer 2, Mitchell
Cons: Malins 3
For South Africa:
Tries: Augustus 2, Van Heerden
Cons: Bosch 2
England: 15 Tom Parton, 14 Darren Atkins, 13 Will Butler, 12 Theo Brophy Clews, 11 Gabriel Ibitoye, 10 Max Malins, 9 Alex Mitchell, 8 Zach Mercer, 7 Ben Earl, 6 Dino Lamb, 5 Justin Clegg, 4 Josh Caulfield, 3 Marcus Street, 2 Joe Mullis, 1 Ralph Adams-Hale.
Replacements: 16 Henry Walker, 17 Ollie Dawe, 18 Ciaran Knight, 19 Max Davies, 20 Josh Bayliss, 21 Harry Randall, 22 Jacob Umaga, 23 Paolo Odogwu.
South Africa: 15 Manie Libbok, 14 Yaw Penxe, 13 Wandisile Simelane, 12 Damian Willemse, 11 Gianni Lombard, 10 Curwin Bosch, 9 Embrose Papier, 8 Juarno Augustus, 7 Ernst van Rhyn (captain), 6 Len Massyn, 5 Ruben van Heerden, 4 Salmaan Moerat, 3 Carlu Sadie, 2 Johan Grobbelaar, 1 Kwenzo Blose.
Replacements: 16 Gerhard Steenekamp, 17 Daniel Jooste, 18 Lee-Marvin Mazibuko, 19 Reinhard Nothnagel, 20 Muller Uys, 21 Francois de Villiers, 22 Stedman Gans, 23 Jean-Luc Cilliers.
Referee: Frank Murphy (Ireland)
Assistant referees: Andrea Piardi (Italy), Shota Tevzadze (Georgia)
TMO: Jon Mason (Wales)