Junior Springboks beat England in U20 Summer Series opener

The Junior Springboks started their U20 Six Nations Summer Series campaign with a strong performance, beating England 30-22 in Verona, Italy on Friday evening.

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Playing against a stiff wind, the South Africans went into the halftime break with a 10-7 lead, with their forward pack giving them a great platform to eventually outscore England by five tries to three.

England used their maul to great effect in a tightly contested opening period, however, the South Africans grew in confidence as the match progressed and in the end, they dominated the scrums and collisions to set up a well-deserved win against a powerful England side.

Junior Springbok coach Bafana Nhleko said he was satisfied with the win but was quick to add that they have much work to do for the next two matches, against Ireland on Tuesday, and then France.

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“We are happy with the win because England are a quality side,” said Nhleko.

“They are physical but we knew what would be coming, however, we pride ourselves on our physicality and our forwards laid the foundation for a good win.”

The Junior Boks took a while to get into their stride.

“You could see it was our first match because we looked rusty at times,” explained Nhleko.

“However, we are happy with the victory, and we do realise there’s a lot of work to be done before we play the two teams who finished first and second in the U20 Six Nations this year.”

Junior Springbok skipper and flyhalf Sacha Mngomezulu impressed with his distribution and decision-making, however, he had an off-day with the boot.

“Playing against the wind in the first half and going into the lead at the break with an advantage gave us a huge lift,” said Mngomezulu.

“We will enjoy the win, not get carried away and get straight into preparation for Ireland, who are the Six Nations’ top side.”

The Junior Springboks started the game strongly when left wing Suleiman Hartzenberg went over in the corner after a brilliant cross kick from Mngomezulu.

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But a few minutes later, they were down to 14 men when openside flank Siya Ningza was yellow carded for a deliberate knock on.

England, playing with a stiff breeze behind them, kicked to the corner and used the maul for lock Ewan Richards to dot down.

The Junior Boks won the next penalty and from a scrum five metres out, No 8 Cameron Hanekom went over, only to see the try ruled out by the TMO.

South Africa ended the first half as they started, on high note, when lively scrumhalf Nico Steyn went over for their second try following a sniping run from right wing Donovan Don to put them 10-7 in front at the break.

With the wind in their backs in the second half, the Junior Boks built on their momentum, with Hanekom scoring his try following some lovely interplay to take the lead to 15-7.

The Junior Boks used their forwards to punch deep holes in the English defence, which led to their fourth try and Hartzenberg’s second as they took control at 22-10.

But England replied with a Emaka Ilione converted try to narrow the lead to 22-17, but they then conceded a penalty which Mngomezulu easily slotted to extend the South Africans’ lead to eight points at 25-17.

Reserve hooker Tiaan Lange scored their fifth try to take the score out of reach at 30-17, with England scoring a consolation try at the end as the game finished 30-22 in favour of the Junior Boks.

SCORERS:

Junior Boks

Tries: Suleiman Hartzenberg (2), Nico Steyn, Cameron Hanekom, Tiaan Lange

Conversion: Sacha Mngomezulu

Penalty: Mngomezulu

England

Tries: Ewan Richards, Imeka Ilione, Conor Oresanya

Conversions: Fin Smith (2)

Penalty goal: Smith

JUNIOR SPRINGBOK TEAM:

15 Duran Koevort (WP), 14 Donovan Don (Griffons), 13 Ethan James (WP), 12 Carlton Banies (Bulls), 11 Suleiman Hartzenberg (WP), 10 Sacha Mngomezulu (captain, WP), 9 Nico Steyn (Lions), 8 Cameron Hanekom (Bulls), 7 Ruan Venter (Lions), 6 Siya Ningiza (Sharks), 5 Reinhardt Ludwig (Bulls), 4 Connor Evans (WP), 3 Corne Weilbach (WP), 2 Lukhanyo Vokozela (WP), 1 Lamla Nunu (WP)

Replacements: 16 Tiaan Lange (Bulls), 17 Juann Else (Bulls), 18 Sebastian Lombard (Bulls), 19 Corne Rahl (Sharks), 20 Louw Nel (WP), 21 Imad Khan (WP), 22 Compion von Ludwig (Bulls), 23 Latica Nela (SA Rugby Sevens contracted), 24 Merwe Olivier (Bulls), 25 Paul de Villiers (WP), 26 Gcino Mdletshe (Bulls)

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