Good start for Junior Boks but tougher tests loom

The Junior Springboks, the SA U-20 rugby national team, shake hands with their Welsh counterparts after a match.
The Junior Springboks, the SA U-20 rugby national team, shake hands with their Welsh counterparts after a match.
Image: Junior Springboks/Twitter

The Junior Springboks made the ideal start to their U20 World Championship campaign with a 43-19 win over Scotland on Tuesday‚ but tougher tests loom.

In an error-ridden performance South Africa still managed to score six tries and earn a bonus point in Rosario‚ which made it ideal in terms of getting the job done.

They needed five log points and they got them.

Coach Chean Roux is aware that significant improvement is needed for their next fixture against Georgia.

The Caucasians gave New Zealand a hard time for an hour in their later Pool match on Tuesday.

Georgia went down 45-13 to the Kiwis‚ but were only trailing 19-13 after 55 minutes.

Typically NZ found another gear when they needed to‚ which was a further warning shot to the Junior Boks.

The two southern hemisphere heavyweights meet in what should be the Pool C decider next Wednesday. SA also finished strongly against Scotland to show their mental toughness.

By Saturday the Junior Boks will be fully acclimatised to Argentina and they should also be a bit sharper after the Scotland match.

But the same is true for all the competing sides.

“It is great to start the competition with a bonus-point win‚” said Roux.

“We knew it was going to be tough in the beginning‚ but our game plan was to chip away and work at it‚ and we scored a couple of tries late in the match.

"The replacements deserve credit as well because they made a big difference when they came on.

“I am pleased with the way the team built an innings. The players need to realise this is Test match rugby‚ not school rugby‚ and they need to take the points when the opportunities arise.

“That said; the biggest work-on we will take from this match is exactly in that department. We had so many opportunities we didn’t convert‚ so we have to look at that and see if we can rectify it before the game against Georgia.”

Numerous handling errors and some poor final passes resulted in squandered chances while otherwise impressive scrumhalf Jaden Hendrikse‚ also missed three shots at goal.

SA’s lineouts‚ mauls and maul defence were also mediocre.

On the positive side‚ their scrums were fantastic. That is a welcome development with Georgia looming because they are one of the best scrummaging teams at the tournament.

Individually there were some impressive displays and collectively the team were creative and incisive on attack. Only some poor finishing deprived SA of more tries.

“Our scrummaging went very well today‚ but we have to work on our lineouts and mauls because that is usually a big aspect of the game at the World Rugby U20 Championship‚” Roux agreed.

“We also need the players to rest and be ready and hungry for the next game‚ as it is only one down and four to go.”

Hosts Argentina lost 30-25 to Wales‚ defending champions France struggled to a 36-20 win over a game Fiji while Australia beat Italy 36-12.

Six Nations U20 champions Ireland’s late surge of points that took them to a 42-26 win over England. With Australia and Italy in the same Pool‚ England’s chances of reaching the semi-finals have taken a huge knock.

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