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Junior Boks secure semifinal spot with gritty win

ROUND THREE WRAP: South Africa secured their spot in the semifinals of the World Rugby Under-20 Championship after a gritty 24-16 win over Argentina in their final pool game at Athlone Stadium in Cape Town.

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South Africa, who topped Pool C, will face Pool B winners Ireland in the semifinal on Sunday, while the other top-four play-off will be between England, who finished second in Pool B, and Pool A winners France.

The Junior Boks finished level on points with Georgia in Pool C, but the South Africans advanced due to head-to-head results.

Playing with intensity and tiring out the Argentineans, who were kept scoreless after the break, the Junior Boks did what was needed and if it wasn’t for a couple of close scoring opportunities in the second half, the margin could have been wider.

But the South Africans won’t complain about the score, as all they needed was victory, although they made life difficult for themselves at times.

If playing against the stiff breeze in the first half wasn’t tough enough, the South Africans also played into their opponents’ hands with bad discipline and a non-existent set-piece.

Conceding penalties at regular intervals – three of which were turned into points by Argentinean flyhalf Valentino Dicapua while there was also a disallowed maul try – meant the South Americans were on the front foot for most of the first half.

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The hosts were made to defend for large periods of the first half, which they did with gusto, although there were a few slipped tackles.

The Junior Boks had a handful of attacking opportunities which they failed to convert, but in the 27th minute, they finally got some reward for showing patience in Los Pumitas’ 22 when Juan Else (hooker) went over for the first try of the match. Flyhalf Jean Smith converted to make it 9-7.

But when Jacob van Heerden (lock) was sent to the sinbin four minutes later for a maul infringement, Argentina struck when burly prop Renzo Zanella crashed over for a try, with Dicapua’s conversion restoring their nine-point lead.

Smith made it 16-10 early in the second half after which the game turned into a real arm-wrestle as the Argentineans tried to play, and the Junior Boks tackled and tackled, interspersed by some good attacking plays by the fleet-footed backs, while the pack also considerably upped their game.

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The home team had a few close calls, once when fullback Hakeen Kunene was over but the TMO spotted a foot in touch by Jurenzo Julius (wing) during a strong run, and again later when they were held up over the tryline.

That didn’t deter them however, and with 11 minutes remaining, the irrepressible Corne Beets (No.8) crashed over for a try, converted by Smith, that gave the Junior Boks the lead for the first time in the game.

Six minutes later Beets, who was named the Player of the Match, sealed the deal with his second try, also converted by Smith, which gave the Junior Boks an eight-point lead.

*Defending champions France will go into the semifinals as the top seeds after a 43-19 victory over Wales saw them top Pool A with the only perfect record in this year’s competition.

Meanwhile, England edged New Zealand on points difference to claim the best runner-up position after both finishing on 10 competition points.

That would have come as a relief to England after they let slip a lead against Australia to draw for the second time in the tournament, the 22-22 stalemate coming after a 34-34 draw with Ireland on the opening day.

New Zealand ran out 62-19 winners over Japan, but it wasn’t enough to overhaul England’s points difference.

Ireland finished top of Pool B after overcoming Fiji 47-27 at Danie Craven Stadium on an emotional day which saw a moment of silence observed before every match following the tragic death of Munster Elite Performance Officer and former Scotland international Greig Oliver, the father of current Ireland U20 Jack Oliver, while he was in South Africa.

Ireland’s squad had also been rocked by the death of 18-year-olds Andrew O’Donnell and Max Wall, who were known to many of the players, on the Greek island of Ios over the weekend.

Georgia got the final day of pool matches underway against Italy at Danie Craven Stadium in Stellenbosch with all players grateful to see a bright blue sky overhead after pouring rain for much of Day Two last Thursday.

The Junior Lelos left it until the dying minutes to claim the bonus point try in the 30-17 victory that not only guaranteed they would finish in the top two of Pool C but assured them of their best-ever finish in U20 Championship history, having never finished higher than ninth previously.

However, South Africa’s win over Argentina meant that they just missed out on a semifinal spot.

Sunday’s semifinals will take place at Athlone Stadium.

The scores and scorers:

Italy 17-30 Georgia

The scorers:

For Italy:
Tries: Casilo, Gallorini
Cons: Brisighella 2
Pen: Brisighella

For Georgia:
Tries: Lomidze, Khonelidze, Tchamiashvili
Cons: Khutsishvili
Pens: Khutsishvili

Yellow cards: Marcos Gallorini (Italy, 9′); Giorgi Shvelidze (Georgia, 39;); Matthias Douglas (Italy, 70′)

Teams:

Italy: 15 Alessandro Gesi, 14 Francesco Bini, 13 Dewi Passarella, 12 Nicola Bozzo, 11 Lorenzo Elettri, 10 Simone Brisighella, 9 Lorenzo Casilio, 8 Jacopo Botturi, 7 David Odiase (captain), 6 Fabio Ruaro, 5 Pietro Turrisi, 4 Alez Mattioli, 3 Marcos Francesco Gallorini, 2 Nicholas Gasperini, 1 Riccardo Bartolini
Replacements: 16 Giovanni Quattrini, 17 Samuele Taddei, 18 Federico Domenico Pisani, 19 Enrico Pontarini, 20 Carlos Berlese, 21 Sebastiano Battara, 22 Matthias Leon Douglas, 23 Giovanni Sante.

Georgia: 15 Luka Tsirekidze, 14 Luka Khorbaladze, 13 Tornike Kakhoidze, 12 Giorgi Shvelidze, 11 Shalva Aptsiauri, 10 Petre Khutsishvili, 9 Davit Khuroshvili, 8 Nika Lomidze, 7 Lasha Tsikhistavi (captain), 6 Rati Zazadze, 5 Giorgi Nikoladze, 4 Guram Ghaniashvili, 3 Irakli Aptsiauri, 2 Basa Khonelidze, 1 Giorgi Mamaiashvili.
Replacements: 16 Tamaz Chamiashvili, 17 Lasha Pkhakadze, 18 Badri Tsikhistavi, 19 Giorgi Gergedava, 20 Tornike Ghaniashvili, 21 Alexander Jighauri, 22 Nikolas Ragoev, 23 Vazha Mikadze.

Referee: Damian Schneider
Assistant referees: Anthony Woodthorpe, AJ Jacobs
TMO: Ben Whitehouse

Ireland 47-27 Fiji

The scorers:

For Ireland:
Tries: Sheahan, McCarthy 2, Osborne, Gleeson 2, Hadden
Cons: Lynch 3, Prendergast 3

For Fiji:
Tries: Navonovono, Ravula, Finau, McGoon, Muuray
Con: Ravula

Yellow card: Sireli Masiwini (Fiji, 76′)

Teams:

Ireland: 15 Harry West, 14 James Nicholson, 13 Sam Berman, 12 John Devine, 11 Andrew Osborne, 10 Matthew Lynch, 9 Oscar Cawley, 8 Brian Gleeson, 7 Dan Barron, 6 Diarmuid Mangan, 5 Joe Hopes, 4 Evan O’Connell, 3 Fiachna Barrett, 2 Danny Sheahan, 1 George Hadden.
Replacements: 16 Max Clein, 17 George Morris, 18 Ronan Foxe, 19 Charlie Irvine, 20 Gus McCarthy, 21 Jack Oliver, 22 Sam Prendergast, 23 Henry McErlean.

Fiji: 15 Peni Waqalala, 14 Sireli Masiwini, 13 Waqa Nalaga, 12 Pateresio Finau, 11 Manieta Navonovono, 10 Isaiah Ravula, 9 Philip Baselala, 8 Juda Saumaisue, 7 Moti Murray (captain), 6 Timoci Nakalevu, 5 Nalani May, 4 Mesake Vocevoce, 3 Breyton Legge, 2 Joeli Nainoca, 1 Moses McGoon.
Replacements: 16 Josh Kina, 17 Marika Toga, 18 Lasaro Vuluma, 19 Semi Tokitani, 20 Sakenasa Nalasi, 21 Zach Kama, 22 Frank Ralogaivau, 23 Netava Saukuru.

Referee: Morné Ferreira
Assistant referees: Ben Breakspear, Stephan Geldenhuys
TMO: Brett Cronan

Australia 22-22 England

The scorers:

For Australia:
Tries: Craig, McLaughlin-Phillips, Talataina
Cons: Bowen 2
Pen: Bowen

For England:
Tries: Jibulu, Bracken, Cleaves
Cons: Slevin 2
Pen: Slevin

Yellow cards: Chandler Cunningham-South (England, 67′); Rekeiti Ma’asi-White (England, 33′)

Teams:

Australia: 15 Mason Gordon, 14 Tim Ryan, 13 Henry O’Donnell, 12 Taj Annan, 11 Ronan Leahy, 10 Jack Bowen, 9 Teddy Wilson (captain), 8 Leafi Heka, 7 Nick Baker, 6 Lachlan Hooper, 5 Daniel Maiava-Tapusoa, 4 Toby Macpherson, 3 Nick Bloomfield, 2 Max Craig, 1 Jack Barrett.
Replacements: 16 Liam Bowron, 17 Harrison Usher, 18 Trevor King, 19 Ollie McCrea, 20 John Bryant, 21 Klayton Thorn, 22 Harry McLaughlin-Phillips, 23 David Vaihu.

England: 15 Sam Harris, 14 Jacob Cusick, 13 Rekeiti Ma’asi-White, 12 Joseph Woodward, 11 Cassius Cleaves, 10 Connor Slevin, 9 Charlie Bracken, 8 Chandler Cunningham-South, 7 Greg Fisilau, 6 Nathan Michelow, 5 Lewis Chessum (captain), 4 Finn Carnduff, 3 Afolabi Fasogbon, 2 Nathan Jibulu, 1 Asher Opoku-Fordjour.
Replacements: 16 Finn Theobald-Thomas, 17 Archie McArthur, 18 James Halliwell, 19 Harvey Cuckson, 20 Tristan Woodman, 21 Nye Thomas, 22 Joe Jenkins, 23 Louie Johnson.

Referee: Eoghan Cross
Assistant referees: Hollie Davidson, Griffin Colby
TMO: Brendon Pickerill

New Zealand 62-19 Japan

The scorers:

For New Zealand:
Tries: Hainsworth-Fa’aofo, Kemara 2, Wrampling, Hutchinson, Flanders, Stodart, Springer 3
Cons: Kemara 2, Godfrey 4

For Japan:
Tries: Nagashima, Imano, Omoto
Cons: Naramoto, Taira

Yellow card: Ryotaro Nose (Japan, 80′)

Teams:

New Zealand: 15 Harry Godfrey, 14 Isaac Hutchinson, 13 Xavi Taele, 12 Ajay Faleafaga, 11 Macca Springer, 10 Taha Kemara, 9 Noah Hotham (captain), 8 Malachi Wrampling-Alec, 7 Sam Hainsworth-Fa’aofo, 6 Will Stodart, 5 Hunter Morrison, 4 Tahlor Cahill, 3 Gabe Robinson, 2 Jack Taylor, 1 Malakai Hala.
Replacements: 16 Vernon Bason, 17 Ben Ake, 18 Siale Lauaki, 19 Tom Allen, 20 Cooper Flanders, 21 Riley Williams, 22 Leo Gordon, 23 Code Vai.

Japan: 15 Yoshitaka Yazaki, 14 Ryohei Imano, 13 Shota Taira, 12 Kengo Nonaka, 11 Kosho Muto, 10 Taishin Ohshima, 9 Yutaro Takahashi, 8 Taison Mogami, 7 Toki Toshikawa, 6 Tenta Kobayashi, 5 Kantaro Tajima, 4 Ryotaro Nose, 3 Kosuke Sugiura, 2 Takashi Omoto, 1 Tomoki Yumbe.
Replacements: 16 Kouta Nagashima, 17 Sena Hwang, 18 Riku Tomita, 19 Bunsuke Kurita, 20 Keito Hayashi, 21 Genki Ikuta, 22 Kanjiro Naramoto, 23 Renji Oike.

Referee: Reuben Keane
Assistant referees: Anthony Woodthorpe, AJ Jacobs
TMO: Joy Neville

France 43-19 Wales

The scorers:

For France:
Tries: Carbonneau, Moustin, Julien, Mondinat, Depoortere 2
Cons: Mondinat 5
Pen: Mondinat

For Wales:
Tries: Houston, Driscoll, Florence
Cons: Edwards 2

Red card: Barnabe Massa (France, 14′)

Yellow card: Brent Liufau (France, 75′)

Teams:

France: 15 Théo Attisogbé, 14 Nicolas Depoortère, 13 Maxence Biasotto, 12 Arthur Mathiron, 11 Maël Moustin, 10 Clément Mondinat, 9 Léo Carbonneau, 8 Mathis Castro Ferreira, 7 Andy Timo, 6 Esteban Capilla, 5 Posolo Tuilagi, 4 Brent Liufau, 3 Zaccharie Affane, 2 Barnabé Massa, 1 Lino Julien.
Replacements: 16 Thomas Lacombre, 17 Alexandre Kaddouri, 18 Thomas Duchene, 19 Lenni Nouchi, 20 Noa Zinzen, 21 Baptiste Jauneau, 22 Hugo Reus, 23 Paul Costes.

Wales: 15 Cameron Winnett, 14 Tom Florence, 13 Louie Hennessey, 12 Bryn Bradley, 11 Harri Houston, 10 Dan Edwards, 9 Archie Hughes, 8 Morgan Morse, 7 Seb Driscoll, 6 Ryan Woodman (captain), 5 Jonny Green, 4 Liam Edwards, 3 Kian Hire, 2 Sam Scarfe, 1 Dylan Kelleher-Griffiths.
Replacements: 16 Lewis Lloyd, 17 Josh Morse, 18 Louis Fletcher, 19 Mackenzie Martin, 20 Gwilym Evans, 21 Joe Westwood, 22 Harri Wiilde, 23 Harri Williams.

Referee: Takehito Namekawa
Assistant referees: Angus Mabey, Aimee Barrett-Theron
TMO: Tom Foley

South Africa 24-16 Argentina

The scorers:

For South Africa:
Tries: Beets 2, Else
Con: Smith 3
Pen: Smith

For Argentina:
Try: Zanella
Con: Dicapua
Pens: Dicapua 3

Yellow card: Jacob van Heerden (South Africa, 31′)

Teams:

South Africa: 15 Hakeem Kunene, 14 Jurenzo Julius, 13 Katlego Letebele, 12 Ethan Hooker, 11 Michael Annies, 10 Jean Smith, 9 Imad Khan, 8 Corne Beets, 7 Ghudian van Reenen, 6 Paul de Villiers (captain), 5 Jacob van Heerden, 4 Coetzee le Roux, 3 Dian Heunis, 2 Juan Else, 1 Cornè Lavagna.
Replacements: 16 Samuel Kotze, 17 Phatu Ganyane, 18 Zachary Porthen, 19 Jannes Potgieter, 20 Abulele Ndabambi, 21 Asad Moos, 22 Damian Markus, 23 Regan Izaks.

Argentina: 15 Mateo Soler, 14 Ernesto Giudice, 13 Faustino Sánchez Valarolo, 12 Nicolás López González, 11 Ignacio Lucero, 10 Valentino Dicapua, 9 Agustín Moyano, 8 Benjamín Grondona, 7 Aitor Bildosola, 6 Eliseo Chiavassa (captain), 5 Efraín Eliás, 4 Federico Rolotti, 3 Renzo Zanella, 2 Tomás Bartolini, 1 Matías Medrano
Replacements: 16 Valentino Minoyetti, 17 Francisco Palazzi, 18 Tomás Rapetti, 19 Facundo García Hamilton, 20 Felipe Bares, 21 Nicolás Viola, 22 Juan Baronio, 23 Valentín Soler Filloy.

Referee: Luc Ramos
Assistant referees: Hollie Davidson, Griffin Colby
TMO: Brendon Pickerill

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