Mixed bag for SA Schools squads
INTERNATIONAL SERIES, WRAP: The SA Under-18 side got off to a winning start in the U18 International Series with an impressive 40-24 triumph over England at Paarl Gymnasium in Paarl on Friday.
The SA U18’s made the most of their strong forward performance by scoring two tries to one in the first half, while they also landed three penalty goals to build up a 23-10 advantage at the halftime break.
They maintained their dominance in the second half and managed two further tries and a penalty goal, while restricting England to two converted tries for a well-deserved win.
While the SA win was built on their forward dominance, flyhalf Stehan Heymans was equally outstanding with a personal contribution of 18 points via four penalty goals and three conversions.
Visiting flanker Jack Bennet then took advantage of some poor SA defence to run in under the posts as England edged ahead 10-9.
However, that lapse of concentration was enough to kick the home side into a more determined mood as they hit back with some powerful forward carries and strong running in midfield.
Hooker Ethan Bester dotted down for the home side from a lineout maul, while scrumhalf Caleb Abrahams followed him over the whitewash on the stroke of halftime. Heymans added the extras to stretch the halftime lead to 23-10.
South Africa kicked on after the restart and soon raced into a 33-10 lead when replacement hooker Luca Bakkes scored off the back of a brilliant maul, with Heymans again on target with another penalty soon afterwards.
They then also showed the grit needed in defence to keep the English at bay. However, replacement hooker Loic Keasey managed to breach the line for England’s second try to reduce the gap to 33-17 halfway through the second stanza.
Replacement lock Jack Waterhouse then showed his speed and power to take a final pass and force his way over for another converted try, South Africa’s fourth of the afternoon, to take the score to 40-17.
But England refused to give up and Keasey got his second when he went over to take the final score to 40-24 in favour of the SA U18’s.
Meanwhile, France were too good as they defeated the SA U18 ‘A’ side by 26-23 after leading 12-9 at the break.
The SA U18 ‘A’ side started brightly and forced their French opponents back into their own half for much of the opening 20 minutes.
The French defence scrambled desperately at times, and it was no surprise that they were penalised on three occasions at the breakdown where they tried to stop the SA team from getting quick ball out wide.
Flyhalf Liam Koen slotted three penalty goals from close range to give his side an early 9-0 advantage.
However, they suffered a setback when lively scrumhalf Enrique Liedeman was forced to leave the field with a knee injury, and he was replaced by his WP teammate Asad Moos.
The French forwards dominated the latter part of the first half, laying a fine platform which yielded two tries. Left wing Jon Echegaray slipped through a tackle out wide to get their first points on the board, and he was followed by strongly built hooker Babtiste Narmand, who profited from a lineout maul.
Pivot Yanis Brillant succeeded with the angled conversion kick to hand the French a narrow 12-9 lead on the stroke of halftime.
The French forwards grew in confidence after the break, however, SA U18 ‘A’ would be disappointed with the number of missed tackles.
France No 9 Thibualt Motassi Dibongue was sent clear to run in for the first of two converted tries after they won back a contestable kick.
Hard-working SA U18 ‘A’ hooker Juan Smal scored the first of his side’s two second-half tries shortly after the visitors stretched their lead to 19-16.
Replacement back Xan Mousques then made it 26-16 when he burst through a couple of missed tackles, before Divan Fuller scored SA’s second try to make the final score 26-23 in favour of the French.
SA U18 40 – 24 England
For SA U18
Tries: Ethan Bester, Caleb Abrahams, Luca Bakkes, Jack Waterhouse.
Cons: Stehan Heymans 3, Thurlon Williams.
Pens: Heymans 4.
Tries: Jack Bennet, Loic Keasey 2
Cons: Rory Taylor 3
SA ‘A’ 23 – 26 France
For SA U18 A
Tries: Juan Smal, Divan Fuller.
Cons: Liam Koen 2
Pens: Koen 3
For France U18
Tries: Jon Echegaray, Babtiste Narmand, Thibualt Motassi Dibongue, Xan Mousques.
Cons: Yani Brillant 2, Oliver Cowie.