Junior Boks claim bronze over New Zealand at U20 World Championships
The Junior Springboks saved their best for last at the U20 Rugby World Championships in France by beating New Zealand 40-30 to claim the bronze medal for a seventh time.
The Junior Boks’ pack dominated their southern hemisphere rivals and on the back of that superiority South Africa outscored New Zealand by six tries to four.
SA scored 26 unanswered second half points before New Zealand scored their fourth try after the final hooter, which underlined the Junior Boks' supremacy in the second period.
Wing Tyrone Greene scored two tries on the day while prop Sazi Sandi, lock Ruan Nortje, centre Wandisile Simelane and prop Asenathe Ntlabakanye scored the others.
The performance also left more questions than answers as to why SA failed to find any consistency throughout the tournament.
When they were good they were excellent but at times they were abysmal.
With the outstanding Simelane back at centre for this match after being wasted on the wing during their pool loss to France and semi-final defeat against England, the backline had more penetration.
But it was the pack with lock Nortje, flank Phendulani Buthelezi and captain and lock Salmaan Moerat that set the tone.
New Zealand held their own up front in the first half but the toil of losing the physical battle saw them disintegrate.
Greene’’s second try four minutes into the second half closed the 11-point halftime gap to a manageable four points as the cracks began to show in New Zealansd’s game.
They clung on grimly as their lineout and scrum were destroyed, with the Junior Boks using the lineout drive to devastating effect.
Nortje finally put SA ahead with a try from a lineout drive. Simelane scored the team’s fifth try in the 64th minute, which was a sweeping move from inside their own 22-metre area by SA, which was his sixth of the tournament.
For the fifth straight game the Junior Boks endured a poor first half before finding their range after the break as the power of their pack took a toll on New Zealand.
Despite Green scoring an intercept try from inside his own 22 in the second minute, the rest of the half was a battle as New Zealand benefitted from some poor SA defence.
Scrumhalf Jay Renton scored off an inside pass after the Junior Boks’ chase lines for a speculative kick were non-existent. New Zealand just strolled through acres of space.
New Zealand centre Harry Plummer then scored in the corner from another play that started with a poor tactical kick and chase by SA. Plummer too easily rounded fullback Giovanni Lombard.
New Zealand’s third try from lock Waimana Riedlinger-Kapa was a result of three missed tackles, which embarrassed the SA defence. But after Plummer converted the 29th minute try, New Zealand wouldn’t score again as SA dominated the remainder of the match.
Tries: Tyrone Greene (2), Sazi Sandi, Ruan Nortje, Wandisile Simelane, Asenathe Ntlabakanye.
Conversions: Giovanni Lombard (4).
Tries: Jay Renton, Harry Plummer, Waimana Riedlinger-Kapa.
Conversions: Plummer (2).
Penalties: Plummer (2).
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