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England end Junior Boks' semifinal hopes

ROUND THREE WRAP: South Africa Under-20 failed to book a World Rugby U20 Championship 2024 semifinal spot after a 12-17 defeat to England on Thursday.


The hosts needed a bonus point win to advance to a semifinal of this year’s tournament.

However, they struggled to master the tough conditions in  Cape Town and stumbled to a 12-17 defeat to England.

The result means England secured a place in the semifinals.

Joining them in the top four are France, New Zealand and  Ireland, who booked their place after their match against Australia was cancelled due to heavy rainfall in Cape Town.

Both teams have been awarded two competition points, meaning the Irish progress to the semifinals as Pool B winners.

Argentina and Georgia also won on day three.

Heartbreak for Junior Boks

Hosts South Africa needed a bonus-point victory to put themselves in contention for a place in the semifinals and they started with the wind at their backs.


That paid off within seven minutes as a sustained period of pressure from the Junior Springboks ended in a try for captain Zach Porthen.

Flyhalf Liam Koen converted from bang in front, but the home side were unable to maintain that dominance as England began to grow into the match.

Early in the second quarter, England elected to kick a penalty to the corner rather than for posts, but flyhalf Benjamin Coen nudged the ball to the wrong side of the corner flag and South Africa were able to alleviate the pressure.

It was only a brief respite though as England returned to the South African 22 and after Henry Pollock had taken his team up to the try line, his back-row colleague Nathan Michelow snuck over in the 27th minute.


Sean Kerr added the extras to level the scores at 7-7 and that is how it remained at half-time, although it was England who ended into the break in the ascendancy.

The Junior Springboks having stood firm to repel an English lineout with less than five minutes of the half remaining.

South Africa were unable to repeat the trick four minutes into the second half as Joe Bailey came up with the ball and the try following a powerful driving maul.

Koen missed the conversion, and the hosts soon found a way back into the game, albeit against the run of play, as wing Likhona Finca made use of his footballing skills.

An initial grubber kick-through looked harmless enough before an English boot inadvertently sent the ball into Finca’s path. He showed good composure to kick the ball on himself and then dot down.

Koen missed the conversion to leave the scores tied at 12-12 but although there was still the bulk of half an hour to play, opportunities were at a premium in the increasingly challenging conditions.

With 60 minutes on the clock, England centre Ben Waghorn almost profited from the footwork of Alex Wills but he could not gather the winger’s hack ahead under pressure from Bathobele Hlekani.

If he had it would almost certainly have resulted in a try. As it was, England played the conditions well and were rewarded with a third try in the final play of the match as James Isaacs scored at the back of another driving maul after the hosts lost Divan Fuller to the sin bin.

France book semifinal spot

Both teams knew that victory – in France’s case with a bonus point – would secure their place in the semifinals, so neither was given a quarter amid difficult conditions.

Wales started the match with the wind at their backs and opened the scoring in the fourth minute as flyhalf Harri Ford slotted a simple penalty.

Three-time defending champions France hit back within four minutes. However, wing Hoani Bosmorin finished off in the left corner after Les Bleuets’ forwards tied up the Welsh defence in midfield and Hugo Reus spun the ball wide.

Reus curled in an impressive touchline conversion before Ford struck the upright with a penalty attempt in the 12th minute.

Although much of the match was being played between the two 22s, France looked the more dangerous and thought they had scored at the beginning of the second quarter, only for the TMO to spot an earlier forward pass.

Ford narrowed the Welsh deficit to a single point with a second successful penalty in the 27th minute but two French tries before half-time put Les Bleuets firmly in control at Athlone Sports Stadium.

Some more hard carrying from those in blue laid the foundations for hooker Thomas Lacombre to go over before Bosmorin scored his second try of the match following a brilliant break from fullback Mathis Ferte.

Wales desperately needed to score next but their hopes of doing so suffered a huge setback less than four minutes after the restart when hooker Isaac Young was sent to the sin bin for a dangerous tackle.

France capitalised immediately as number eight Mathis Castro Ferreira powered over from close range after Wales had repelled the initial lineout drive.

To their credit, the Welsh defence stood firm for the rest of their 10 minutes with 14 players. But the strength of the wind in their face meant they were pinned inside their 22 for much of the next quarter.

When they finally managed to get into the French half, Wales enjoyed their best spell of pressure but captain Ryan Woodman was held up as he was powered over the try line.

Wales did not have to wait long for a try, though, as Morgan Morse went over from close range.

Kicking into a strong wind, Harri Wilde missed the conversion and with their place in the semifinals long assured, France returned to their opponents’ 22 for the remaining nine minutes, extending their lead with an Axel Desperes-Rigou penalty.

New Zealand cruise into semis

New Zealand showed immense skill in the rain to qualify for the semifinals despite their match against Spain being abandoned at half-time.

With New Zealand needing only a single matchday point to reach the semi-finals, they started at a blistering pace, putting all sorts of pressure on Spain.

After several minutes of possession, they eventually found space in the wide channels, scrumhalf Cooper Grant crashing over for the early try while the heavens opened up as it began pouring with rain.

New Zealand were on a mission, and when the captain Xavier Tito-Harris went within inches of the line after a great break from a lineout, try number two wasn’t far away.

Moments later, it followed as they recycled the ball with prop Joshua Smith powering over from close range.

Gonzalo Otamendi then made history when he slotted a penalty to become the first Spanish player at any level to score against New Zealand.

New Zealand responded straight away, though, as they used their set piece to power into the Spanish 22 before spreading the ball wide with Mosese Bason sliding over.

The rain was somehow getting heavier, but this did not stop New Zealand as they looked to break from inside their own half, with fullback Manumua Letiu showing brilliant skill to stride down the wing into the Spanish half before linking up with Tom Allen, who scored the bonus-point and semifinal clinching try.

Spain created more history again when Victor Ofojetu dived on a loose ball as New Zealand fullback Isaac Hutchinson dropped a Spanish touch finder, with the Spanish flanker reacting quickest to score a famous try.

This only aggravated New Zealand as they responded with their fifth try of the match, this time using their scrum to win a penalty and kick into the 22 before their driving maul game proved too strong as they powered their way over the line with hooker A-One Lolofie.

Spain tried to work their way back into the game, but with the weather and pitch full of rain, their opponents easily defended the Spanish attacks before showing their wet weather skills to score another try with flank Mosese Bacon sliding over from close range.

The final act of the half and, due to the rain, the game, saw New Zealand crash over for their seventh try as they showed immense skill and patience in the rain before Frank Vaenuku scored.

Georgia claim first win

Georgia claimed their first win of the U20 Championship as they edged Italy 28-17 in tough conditions.

With rain lashing down, scoring chances were at a premium at Danie Craven Stadium, but after holding the Lion’s share of possession in the opening 10 minutes, Italy were the first to score.

Some strong work around the fringes from the Azzurrini opened up space in the wide channels, which they exploited using some interplay in the backs as centre Nicola Bozzo’s delayed pass sent Mirko Belloni through a hole to score the match’s first points.

Georgia looked to respond straight away, and the Azzurrini were soon down to 14, with lock Samuele Mirenzi sent to the bin for a tip tackle on hooker Mikheil Khakhubia.

The Junior Lelos instantly took advantage of their man advantage and drove their way over with a powerful maul as Khakhubia scored their first points in the encounter.

After a stop-start next few minutes, the Georgians looked to have scored the second try of the match as Luka Tsirekidze blocked scrumhalf Casilio’s kick before racing towards the Italian line but was caught by opposite number Simone Brisghella with a only a few blades of grass away from the line.

The Junior Lelos were not to be denied moments later, though, as Georgia turned the screw driving home from a resulting maul, with the referee awarding a penalty try while simultaneously sending Luca Bellucci to the bin.

Italy immediately responded with a penalty as an offside kick chase from Georgia gave Briseghella the simplest of chances, which he did not miss.

After a scrappy start to the second half in the heavy conditions, Georgia were the first to launch a major attack in the second half, with the Azzurrini made to pay for the poor discipline as flyhalf Brisighella was given a yellow card for slowing the game down.

After several chances went begging, Georgia used the backs and scored a crucial third try, with Giorgi Khaindrava breaking past tackles to score under the sticks.

The Azzurrini then dominated a couple of scrums allowing them to make a rare visit inside the Georgian 22; from here, they drove their way over using their maul, with hooker Nicholas Gasperini breaking off to collect the try.

Italian hopes of a comeback win were soon ended, though, as poor discipline from the kick-off gave Georgia another shot inside the 22, which they converted with ease as replacement scrumhalf Mikheil Kachlavashvili broke away for the Junior Lelos’ bonus-point score, extending their lead for a final time to 28-17.

Argentina boost their semifinal hopes

Argentina boosted their hopes of a semifinal berth with a dominant 52-12 over Fiji.

With running rugby conditions limited, Argentina opted for the kicking game to get them into the game as fullback Benjamin Elizalde collected a 50-22.

From there, Los Pumitas went to one of their strengths, the driving maul, which proved too strong for Fiji as Argentina scored their first points of the match with hooker Juan Manuel Vivas dotting down over the soggy try line. Flyhalf Facundo Rodriguez added the extras on his first appearance of the tournament.

Despite the heavy pitch, Argentina showed some of their attacking intent as they collected a second try before the 10-minute mark. A brilliant solo break from scrumhalf Genaro Podesta saw him weave past the Fijian defenders before his pass found Felipe Ledesma, who slid into the corner.

Fiji’s job was made tougher on 14 minutes when winger Aisea Nawai looked for an intercept that wasn’t there and was given a yellow card by referee Sam Grove-White for a deliberate knock-on.

Los Pumitas’ forwards were proving far too much for the inexperienced Fijian pack as they set up another maul inside the 22 before breaking away and freeing the backline, with wing Ledesma scoring his brace.

The Fijian flair struggled to emerge for much of the opening half, but as the game broke up, the Pacific Islanders found their groove.

A neat chip into the 22 from winger Waisake Salabiua was ended illegally by Los Pumitas scrumhalf Podesta, and suddenly Argentina were down to 14.

Fiji looked to have made the best start to the yellow card period as hooker Moses Armstrong-Ravuila crossed the line, but the try was chalked off for crossing, with flank Ebernezer Tuidraki stopping any potential tackle.

After a slow start to proceedings, the Fijians were flying, but despite playing the final 10 minutes of the half in the Argentina 22, it took until the final play of the opening 40 minutes for them to score their first points as Ponipate Tuberi dived over with Isikeli Basiyalo converting.

The second half started just as the first had, with Argentina showing serious power in the pack. A scrum penalty on halfway was kicked into the Fijian half before they delivered another breathtaking maul driving from 25 metres, with replacement hooker Juan Greising Revol scoring the crucial bonus point.

Argentina’s power was again causing Fiji all sorts of problems, and their penalty count continued to rise as the South Americans camped themselves in the Fiji half.

Another onslaught from Los Pumitas ended in a try for Podesta, while Fiji also lost Tuidraki to the bin for an offside tackle.

With Argentina’s scrum showing continuous dominance, they were soon rewarded with a penalty try.

Argentina then added try number seven with another driving maul splintering the Fijian defence with Greising Revol again scoring as Los Pumitas looked to rack up the points as they hunted for a potential semifinal spot.

With the game entering the final 10 minutes, winger Nawai showed some typical Fijian spirit with a well-taken solo try.

Los Pumitas ended the game in suitable fashion with another powerful driving maul with Juan Pedro Bernasconi dotting down for their eighth and final try, while Fiji saw their third yellow as replacement flank Sakenasa Nalasi was sent to the bin.

See below for Tuesday’s scores and scorers!

South Africa 12-17 England

For South Africa:
Tries: Finca, Porthen
Con: Koen

For England:
Tries: Carnduff, Bailey, Isaacs
Con: Kerr


South Africa: 15 Michail Damon, 14 Likhona Finca, 13 Jurenzo Julius , 12 Joshua Boulle, 11 Litelihle Bester, 10 Liam Koen, 9 Asad Moos, 8 Thabang Mphafi, 7 Bathobele Hlekani, 6 Sibabalwe Mahashe, 5 JF van Heerden, 4 Thomas Dyer, 3 Zachary Porthen (captain), 2 Luca Bakkes, 1 Casper Badenhorst.
Replacements: 16 Ethan Bester, 17 Liyema Ntshanga, 18 Herman Lubbe, 19 Jaco Grobbelaar, 20 Tiaan Jacobs, 21 Divan Fuller, 22 Tylor Sefoor, 23 Phillip-Albert van Niekerk .

England: 15 Ben Redshaw, 14 Jack Bracken, 13 Ben Waghorn, 12 Sean Kerr, 11 Alex Wills, 10 Benjamin Coen, 9 Ollie Allan, 8 Nathan Michelow, 7 Henry Pollock, 6 Finn Carnduff (captain), 5 Junior Kpoku, 4 Joe Bailey, 3 Billy Sela, 2 Craig Wright, 1 Asher Opoku-Fordjour.
Replacements: 16 James Isaacs, 17 James Halliwell, 18 Afolabi Fasogbon, 19 Olamide Sodeke, 20 Kane James, 21 Lucas Friday, 22 Angus Hall, 23 Ioan Jones.

Referee: Federico Vedovelli (Italy)
Assistant referees: Adam Jones & Paul Mente
TMO: Ben Whitehouse

Argentina 52-12 Fiji

The scorers:

For Argentina:
Tries: Bernasconi, Ledesma 2, Vivas, Podesta, Revol 2, Penalty try
Cons: Rodriguez 5

For Fiji:
Tries: Tuberi, Nawai
Con: Basiyalo


Argentina: 15 Benjamin Elizalde, 14 Franco Rossetto, 13 Faustino Sanchez Valarolo, 12 Tomas Medina, 11 Felipe Ledesma, 10 Facundo Rodriguez, 9 Genaro Podesta, 8 Ignacio Torrado, 7 Juan Penoucos, 6 Agustin Sarelli, 5 Felipe Bruno Schmidt, 4 Efrain Elias (captain), 3 Gael Galvan, 2 Juan Manuel Vivas, 1 Diego Correa.
Replacements: 16 Juan Greising Revol, 17 Renzo Martin, 18 Marcos Camerlinck, 19 Santos Fernandez de Oliveira, 20 Juan Pedro Bernasconi, 21 Jeronimo Llorens, 22 Santino di Lucca, 23 Timoteo Silva.

Fiji: 15 Isikeli Basiyalo, 14 Aisea Nawai, 13 Harrison Valevatu, 12 Sivaniolo Kalaveti, 11 Waisake Salabiau, 10 Ratu Isikeli Rabitu, 9 Samuela Ledua, 8 Simon Koroiyadi, 7 Ratu Nemani Kurucake, 6 Ebernezer Tuidraki, 5 Iliesa Erenavula, 4 Nalani May, 3 Luke Nasau, 2 Moses Armstrong-Ravula, 1 Mataiasi Tuisireli.
Replacements: 16 Iowane Vakadrigi, 17 Breyton Legge, 18 Elroy Macomber, 19 Malakai Masi, 20 Sakenasa Nalasi, 21 Josua Gonewai, 22 Bogidrau Kikau, 23 Ponipate Tuberi.

Referee: Sam Grove White (Scotland)
Assistant referees: Aimee Barrett-Theron & AJ Jacobs
TMO: Mark Patton

Georgia 28-17 Italy

The scorers:

For Georgia:
Tries: Khaindrava, Kachlavashvili, Khakhubia
Cons: Tsirekidze 3

For Italy:
Tries: Gasperini, Belloni
Cons: Brisighella 2
Pen: Brisighella


Georgia: 15 Luka Takaishvili, 14 Luka Keshelava, 13 Luka Kobauri, 12 Giorgi Khaindrava, 11 Otari Metreveli, 10 Luka Tsirekidze, 9 Sandro Jigauri, 8 Nika Lomidze (captain), 7 Andro Dvali, 6 Tornike Ganiashvili, 5 Temur Tsulukidze, 4 Davit Lagvilava, 3 Davit Mtchedlidze, 2 Mikheil Khakhubia, 1 Luka Ungiadze.
Replacements: 16 Tamaz Tchamiashvili, 17 Luka Kotorashvili, 18 Davit Kuntelia, 19 Murtazi Tskhadadze, 20 Shota Kheladze, 21 Mikheil Kachlavashvili, 22 Nugzari Kevkhishvili, 23 Tarieli Burtikashvili.

Italy: 15 Mirko Belloni, 14 Federico Zanandrea, 13 Nicola Bozzo, 12 Patrick de Villiers, 11 Lorenzo Elettri, 10 Simone Brisighella, 9 Lorenzo Casilio, 8 Jacopo Botturi (captain), 7 Luca Bellucci, 6 Giacomo Milano, 5 Piero Gritti, 4 Samuele Mirenzi, 3 Federico Pisani, 2 Nicholas Gasperini, 1 Sergio Pelliccioli.
Replacements: 16 Valerio Siciliano, 17 Francesco Gentile, 18 Davide Ascari, 19 Mattia Midena, 20 Tommaso Redondi, 21 Nelson Casartelli, 22 Mattia Jimenez, 23 Marco Scalabrin.

Referee: Morné Ferreira (South Africa)
Assistant referees: Aimee Barrett-Theron & Griffin Colby
TMO: Mike Adamson

France 29-11 Wales

The scorers:

For France:
Tries: Lacombre, Bosmorin 2, Ferreira
Cons: Reus 3
Pen: Desperes-Rigou

For Wales:
Try: Morse
Pens:  Ford 2


France: 15 Mathis Ferte, 14 Maxence Biasotto, 13 Fabien Brau-Boirie, 12 Robin Taccola, 11 Hoani Bosmorin, 10 Hugo Reus (captain), 9 Thomas Souverbie, 8 Mathis Castro-Ferreira, 7 Sialevailea Tolofua, 6 Joe Quere Karaba, 5 Corentin Mezou, 4 Charly Gambini, 3 Thomas Duchene, 2 Thomas Lacombre, 1 Samuel Jean-Christophe.
Replacements: 16 Mathys Lotrian, 17 Lino Julien, 18 Thomas Marceline, 19 Antonin Corso, 20 Geoffrey Malaterre, 21 Alexis Caumel, 22 Leo Carbonneau, 23 Axel Desperes-Rigou.

Wales: 15 Matty Young, 14 Macs Page, 13 Louie Hennessey, 12 Steffan Emanuel, 11 Aidan Boshoff, 10 Harri Ford, 9 Ieuan Davies, 8 Morgan Morse, 7 Lucas De La Rua, 6 Ryan Woodman (captain), 5 Osian Thomas, 4 Jonny Green, 3 Sam Scott, 2 Isaac Young, 1 Josh Morse.
Replacements: 16 Harry Thomas, 17 Jordan Morris, 18 Kian Hire, 19 Nick Thomas, 20 Owen Conquer, 21 Rhodri Lewis, 22 Harri Wilde, 23 Elijah Evans.

Referee: Neheun Jauri Rivero (Argentina)
Assistant referees: Saba Abulashvili & Christopher Allison
TMO: Matteo Liperini

New Zealand 45-13 Spain

The scorers:

For New Zealand:
Tries: Bason 2, Smith, Lolofie, Grant, Vaenuku, Allen
Cons: Hutchinson 5

For Spain:
Try: Ofojetu
Con: Otamendi
Pens: Otamendi 2


New Zealand: 15 Isaac Hutchinson, 14 King Maxwell, 13 Xavier Tito-Harris, 12 Xavi Taele (captain), 11 Frank Vaenuku, 10 Cooper Grant, 9 Ben O’Donovan, 8 Mosese Bason, 7 Matt Lowe, 6 Andrew Smith, 5 Cameron Christie, 4 Tom Allen, 3 Josh Smith, 2 A-One Lolofie, 1 Senio Sanele.
Replacements: 16 Manumaua Letiu, 17 Sika Pole, 18 Will Martin, 19 Tai Cribb, 20 Jeremiah Avei-Collins, 21 Riley Williams, 22 Rico Simpson, 23 Aki Tuivailala.

Spain: 15 Gabriel Rocaries, 14 Javier Guillermo, 13 Unax Zuriarrain, 12 Yago Fernandez Vilar (captain), 11 Roberto Ponce, 10 Gonzalo Otamendi, 9 Javier Lopez De Haro, 8 Valentino Rizzo, 7 Daniel Velasco, 6 Victor Ofojetu, 5 Antonio Gamez, 4 Martin Serrano, 3 Guido Reyes Rendon, 2 Pau Massoni, 1 Alberto Gomez.
Replacements: 16 David Gallego, 17 Hugo Gonzalez, 18 Aniol Franch, 19 Adam Llinares, 20 Nicolas Moleti, 21 Nicolas Gali, 22 Luciano Richardis, 23 Julien Burguillos.

Referee: Reuben Keane (Australia)
Assistant referees: AJ Jacobs & Griffin Colby
TMO: Tual Tranini


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