SA v Wales in 'double-header'
SPOTLIGHT: Not only will the senior teams of South Africa and Wales meet in a crucial Test in Bloemfontein on Saturday, but a few days later their junior teams also go head-to-head in a tournament decider.
Junior Springboks coach Bafana Nhleko expect a massive challenge from Wales when the two sides meet in the Final of the Under-20 series on Tuesday, following the Welsh’s thrilling 23-20 win over hosts Italy in Treviso on Wednesday.
The Final will see the two unbeaten sides of the junior series go into battle in Treviso, where an enthralling match is expected.
Wales’ dramatic win over an impressive Italy sealed first place in Pool B, with a late penalty goal from captain Joe Hawkins sending his team through to the tournament showpiece.
Nhleko said the Junior Boks will have to be at their best if they want to succeed against Wales next week.
“The way the Welsh dealt with the pressure in the face of such a huge onslaught from Italy, playing in front of their own fans in Treviso, was hugely impressive,” said Nhleko.
“It showed their character, and they will be a massive test for our boys.
“They’re a tactically astute team and have a senior Test international in their ranks, which demonstrates their pedigree.”
The South Africans defeated England and Ireland in their first two games and then showed great fighting spirit to overcome France in an energy-sapping third Pool A fixture.
Although they improved as the tournament progressed, the Junior Boks now have their most important match left to play as the junior series concludes next week.
“We improved as the tournament progressed, and next Tuesday will be another opportunity for us as a group to show our potential and demonstrate how we have managed to grow as a team,” added Nhleko.
“Wales will bring a huge forward challenge, plus they have impressive pace and skill out wide, so it makes for an exciting challenge and one we are looking forward to meet.”
After three tough games in the Italian heat, the Junior Boks are enjoying two days away from the training ground to recuperate before resuming preparations on Friday.
“We have a lot of sore bodies after three big games, and we, therefore, gave the boys a bit of time off to rest and to enjoy the splendid Italian surroundings before getting back to work on Friday,” explained Nhleko.
The Junior Boks will announce their matchday squad of 26 on Monday.