Baby Boks into semi’s


The South African Under-20 team overcame a committed France team in front of their home crowd to record a third successive victory and clinch a place in the Junior World Championship semi-finals with a 26-19 victory (halftime 8-7) in La Roche-sur-Yon on Thursday.

The Junior Springboks twice trailed in the match – and were matched for tries, three-all – but they showed tremendous defensive commitment and character to resist a home nation desperate to record a significant victory in their campaign, having already lost to England.

South Africa also had the cool head and accurate boot of Handré Pollard to thank for their win. He kicked four from six kicks at poles, including an awkward penalty ten minutes from the final whistle, to nose the Junior Boks ahead on both occasions they fell behind.

South Africa made the perfect start, scoring a try within the first minute of play. The Junior Springboks won two rucks on the French 10-metre line before moving the ball wide to the right where centre Dries Swanepoel made a slashing midfield break from 35 metres out and used two players outside him to dummy his way to the line, his momentum carrying him over the line  as he was tackled five metres short of the line. Handré Pollard missed the conversion.

The lead was short lived as the Junior Springboks suffered the novel experience of falling behind in a match in the championship for the first time. They were attempting a rare attack in the first half when Luther Obi’s ambitious reverse pass behind his back drifted forward into the hands of French flank Yacouba Camara. He freed centre Thibault Regard to bustle in from halfway. Enzo Selponi’s conversion gave France a one-point lead.

France had all the momentum – and were to retain it throughout the opening half – but South Africa regained the lead in the 14th minute – the final score of the half. A typically mesmerising break by Cheslin Kolbe to the heart of the French defence, 35 metres out, saw his eventual tackler declining to roll away. Pollard sent a good penalty rifling through the poles to give South Africa an 8-7 lead.

More Kolbe brilliance allowed South Africa to begin the second half as they had the first. Within two minutes of the restart right wing Luther Obi dotted down in the corner after Kolbe’s shimmy and dart, concluding with a pass round the back of his tackler. It gave Obi a tip-toeing run down the touchline before planting the ball one handed as he was hustled into the corner flag.

Pollard’s kicking woes looked to be well behind him as he converted from the touchline and added a penalty two minutes later to make it 18-7 to the Junior Springboks.

However, the pattern of the first half continued to be repeated as France scored their second try within seven minutes of the Junior Boks’ score. The defence was stretched right and then left where eighthman Marco Tauleigne held onto a fingertip pass from Camara to score in the corner under the attention of two defenders. Selponi’s conversion attempt was short and wide.

France’s scrum and maul began to make inroads and a burst from hooker Christopher Tolofua followed up by loosehead Cyril Baille set up field position under the South African poles for Baptiste Serin to pick up and score from a ruck two metres out. The replacement scrumhalf converted his own try to give his team a one-point lead with 16 minutes remaining.

France’s joy was short lived. Six minutes later South Africa set up field position with a lineout just outside the French 22 and when the home side infringed, Pollard coolly slotted a far from straightforward kick from the left-hand side.

South Africa controlled field position in the final ten minutes – playing some of their best rugby of the match – and it was fitting that another dazzling break from Kolbe should conclude the match. The fullback picked up from a ruck on the 22 and danced in untouched to complete a satisfactory evening.

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  1. Our scrum was pathetic and Pollard’s tactical kicking was very poor in the first half, by memory he also missed three penalty kicks for touch.

    Our decision making wasn’t good, we kept on kicking to the French Fullback and found him difficult to handle every time he came from deep.

    Our defensive technique suffered big time, our players kept on tackling around the shoulders and fell off tackles more and more as the game went on.

    Lucky win, and the English game was similar.

    We should beat Wales, but I doubt we will take the trophy.

  2. Reply to biltongbek @ 8:28 am:

    Actually last year they were crap all the way to the finals too… I mean they really didn’t even deserve to get through the prelim rounds…

    Ironically it’s all of the above you mentioned that’s making them look bad not the Orcs…

  3. My take – frustrating by the Bokkies! We stood off the rucks and the French piled in with intent and turned over some good ball. We also stood off the French attack and let them run at us which gave them a lot of momentum! 2nd half we put more pressure on them but the French had their tails up already. Scrums were bad but therefore the LO’s worked well.

    And WHY must the BEST SA backline player always be the smallest! :bangheadt: Kolbe is soo damn good in everything he does but like Aplon is TINY and that will count against him come test rugby :shake:

    You have the best winger in your team and he gets the ball only twice on my count! Get the ball to Senatla at pace!! :bangheadt:

  4. Agree about Senatla and Kolbe, they are both brilliant with ball in hand.

    Haven’t seen anyone step like Kolbe since Fred Astaire. :whistling:

  5. I was very pissed off with them last night. I thought they were thinking this would have been an easy game.

    We have a shit load of talent in this team but like most already said we did not used it. One thing I do not like from al refs I so far saw in this championship, is that they allow too many players go off their feet in the rucks and over the ball.

    To fall over the ball is not a turnover.

  6. About size:
    I know it was a completely different
    ball game back then, but eve so I was
    surprised when I learnt that Mannetjies
    Roux was only 73kg.

  7. I am please to know I am not the only MUGS about.

    Do die for the very passionate French team and a win against a very big England team too.

    You can fluke 1 win but not two. Well done guys lets hope you can drill the Kiwi chokers again.

    Kolbe is 19 and 80Kg. Hopefully a few more pounds wont slow him down.

    I just can help feeling we are going to have a dominant senior rugby team soon once some of the dead wood is scrapped.