Junior Boks' first-half show floors Grand Slam champs Ireland U20
WRAP: The Junior Springboks took control of their pool at the U20 Six Nations Summer Series in Italy when they won their second game on the trot in Verona on Wednesday, beating Ireland by 33-24 in hot and humid conditions.
The conditions made handling difficult, but the South African pack laid the foundation for a solid win against the 2022 Grand Slam champions, outscoring their opponents by five tries to three, with the final Irish try coming after the hooter had sounded.
With England beating France earlier on the day, the SA U20s now lead Pool A with a full-house of 10 points, followed by the English and French on five points each, while the Irish are yet to open their account.
The Junior Boks dominated the opening half and led 26-3 through four tries and three conversions, while the Irish could only reply with a penalty goal. The Irish hit back with three converted tries in the second period, while the SA U20s managed one converted try for their second win in a row.
Bafana Nhleko, the Junior Springbok coach, said while he was happy with the result, he wasnt too pleased with the number of unforced errors.
“Very pleased for the boys because they won against a good side who are the Six Nations U20 champions,” said Nhleko.
“The Irish showed their quality, especially in the second half.
“It was another great learning opportunity for the boys, and I thought we did well to manage the game out despite their persistent pressure.”
The Junior Springbok started strongly when they earned a scrum penalty as early as the third minute. Skipper Sacha Mngomezulu steered his effort agonisingly left.
Three minutes later they earned a reward for another strong scrum performance when No.8 Cameron Hanekom crossed the line for the first try of the evening. Mngomezulu slotted the conversion to take the score to 7-0.
Ireland had to wait until halfway through the opening half before flyhalf Sam Prendergast earned their first points with a succesful penalty kick.
The young South Africans were powerful in the collisions and were rewarded with generous turnovers, but several unforced errors threathened to spoil their hard work.
Industrious lock Reinhardt Ludwig was again on hand to take a final pass to force his way over for the second five pointer of the first half as SA stretched their lead to 12-3.
Sniffing dominance upfront, the pack won another huge collision and with the penalty kicked to the corner, it was no surprise when hooker Tiaan Lange dotted down the third try of the opening stanza, which Mngomezulu converted as they increased their advantage to 19-3.
Lange was followed by lock Corne Rahl over the whitewash in quick succession to take the halftime score to 26-3.
With Lange in the bin though, Ireland were rewarded for a good passage of play just after the restart through a Reuben Crothers try under the sticks.
Replacement hooker Lukhanyo Vokozela made his presence felt with a try shortly after coming on, with his skipper adding the extras to take the Junior Boks’ lead back to 23 points at 33-10.
Ireland hit back with a converted try from replacement prop Oisin Michel as they narrow the gap to 33-17 halfway through the second half, and Crothers scored his second on fulltime to take the final score to 33-24.
The Junior Boks tackle France next week in their third outing.
For South Africa U20
Tries: Cameron Hanekom, Reinhardt Ludwig, Tiaan Lange 2, Corne Rahl, Lukhanyo Vokozela.
Cons: Sacha Mngomezulu 4
For Ireland U20
Tries: Reuben Crothers 2, Oisin Michel.
Cons: Sam Prendergast 3
England 29-20 France
Tries: Richards 2, Oresanya, Walsh
Cons: Smith 2, Walsh
Tries: Montgaillard, Penalty Try
Pens: Auriac 2