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Baby Boks just not good enough

REACTION: South Africa does not want to be defined by their defeats to England and Argentina in the pool phase of the World Rugby Under-20 Championship.

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Baby Boks coach Bafana Nhleko said why they will continue to give it their all in their remaining two matches.

However, he admitted their best endeavour was not good enough to win a defining pool match against England.

The SA U20 team delivered a much-improved performance in their final pool match, but came up short against England at the Athlone Stadium on Tuesday – going down 12-17 in cold, wet and windy conditions in Cape Town.

South Africa had to win with a try-scoring bonus point and a points difference of at least 13 to progress to the semifinals.

Although they gave it their all, England scored the winning try five minutes after the hooter, consigning the Junior Boks to a fifth-place play-off against Argentina on Sunday.

(Continue below …)

England will take on Ireland and New Zealand are up against France in the semifinals at the Cape Town Stadium.

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Nhleko said they were hurting from the outcome of a match they had to win to be in contention for a place in the last four.

Although the result was painful, the Junior Bok coach commended his team for the way they responded to their previous performance against Argentina, and for taking the game to the English side.

“It hurts and we are feeling it, especially conceding after the hooter, but I thought the effort was great,” said Nhleko.

“We had our backs against the wall coming into this game and the boys got stuck in.

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“Both teams showed a willingness to play, and I thought we put ourselves in good positions.

“However, we didn’t get the reward and some of that was perhaps, us being a bit too desperate at times.

“Those are the small margins that go for or against you.”

He added the Junior Boks coped well with the difficult conditions.

They scrummed well and created opportunities, but handling errors and a resolute English defence meant they could not add to their two tries, with England clinching the game with the winning try long after the sound of the final hooter.

“We are not making excuses,” Nhleko said, adding: “The desire to win was there, and [it was] not because of a lack of trying.”

The SA U20 team will now reset as they prepare for their final two matches, starting with a tricky encounter against Argentina in Cape Town on Sunday.

“Although we didn’t succeed in our mission, we still have two matches remaining and those games will allow us to end as high as we can,” said Nhleko.

“We will continue giving guys an opportunity as part of the pathway process and their long-term development.”

The Junior Boks will complete their recovery protocols on Wednesday and resume on-field training on Thursday.

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