Baby Boks now eye 'Final'
REACTION: South Africa coach Bafana Nhleko was delighted with the performance of his forwards in their 33-24 Under-20 series win over Ireland, with six of them making their first Championship starts.
All five of South Africa’s tries came courtesy of the pack as Ireland was outgunned in the first half, building up a 23-point lead at the interval.
Nhleko was delighted to see them take their opportunity in challenging conditions.
“We’re very happy with the win,” said Nhleko.
“I think if you consider there are six changes in the pack, especially how they played in the first half, one has to take that.
“We knew that Ireland was hurting and the way they came back in the second half put us under pressure, but it’s part of the learning for our group again.”
Ireland did rally in the second half and crossed on three occasions but was unable to take either a try or losing bonus point from the game, despite captain Reuben Crothers’ overtime score.
And Nhleko feels that a combination of Irish resilience and Bok fatigue explained his side’s drop-off after the interval.
“The conditions are not easy,” he explained.
“It’s hot, it’s humid, you could see a bit of slippery ball, but it’s just part of our learning to be better in those situations.”
The game was effectively sealed with three tries in the space of 10 relentless first-half minutes, with Reinhardt Ludwig, Tiaan Lange and Corne Rahl all registering close-range scores.
But South Africa did not have it so easy as the game wore on, and Nhleko said he had expected a response from Richie Murphy’s team.
“Absolutely,” responded Nhleko, when asked if Ireland showed their true pedigree in the second half.
“They were unbeaten in the Six Nations and we knew what they were capable of.
“We wanted to starve them of quick ball at the breakdown. We wanted to stop them from trying to get wide because we know once they get momentum it’s quite difficult to stop them with the offloads.
“We were somewhat successful at that, but again, I think in most of the situations where we let them off the hook, we put ourselves under pressure with some of our decision making.”
South Africa lead Pool A at the end of Round Two, having scored the maximum 10 points on offer.
If they avoid defeat when they play France on Tuesday, they will ensure their position at the top of the group before playing the winners of Pool B on July 12 for the right to be crowned series champions.