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Will feeble Baby Boks 'pitch up' against England?

The South African Under-20 team is in a compromising position after losing feebly to Argentina at a wet Danie Craven Stadium in Stellenbosch on Thursday.

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The result now means that Bafana Nhleko’s side must get a bonus-point win against England in their remaining pool match next Tuesday in Athlone and hope other results go their way to qualify for the World Rugby U20 semifinals.

Argentina had the best possible start in their 31-12 victory over the Junior Boks – outscoring the hosts by five tries to two after nullifying the South Africans’ powerful set piece.

The South Americans are now level with South Africa in Pool C with five log points each – behind England who currently top the pool with 10 points after two bonus point victories.

Much like their meeting in the U20 Rugby Championship – Argentina had a fast start to the match, crossing the whitewash three times to open up a 17-0 lead after 22 minutes.

Despite a better start in the second stanza for the home team – opening up with a penalty try, the Pumitas struck back with two more scores to secure the bonus point, whilst South Africa got a conciliation try at the end of the match.

Junior Bok head coach Bafana Nhleko credited Argentina and said they deserve their win, made possible by their fast start:

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“We didn’t start well, and we spoke about it earlier in the week, that they’re a team that chase a good start, and we fell away in that first 20 minutes. The sequence of the game was us on attack and losing the contact contest and them getting a lineout in our half, which sapped our energy.”

The loss means it’s back to the drawing board for the home side, according to Nhleko:

“The big thing is that we didn’t get going and maybe we fell into the trap when things were not going our way, but with a short turnaround, we can’t dwell too much on the loss – we need to rally for the next match.”

Thanking the local support

Nhleko praised the Stellenbosch crowd who braved the cold and wet weather to support their team:

“We were down and out today, but we have to pitch up for the next one,” he said.

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“There was an incredible crowd out there that stayed right until the end, in the rain, to support us and for that, we’re grateful and sorry that we disappointed them with the performance.

“For us, it’s about showing character now and giving people a reason to come back and support us again.”

The Junior Boks will face England in a must-win Pool C clash on Tuesday, July 9 at the Athlone stadium with kick-off scheduled for 19.00.

 

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