Junior Springbok wing Sergeal Petersen said on Thursday calm heads will be needed when the South Africans tackle hosts New Zealand Under-20 in the semi-finals at the IRB Junior World Championship this coming Sunday.
Petersen is one of the senior players in the squad and he has already played Vodacom Super Rugby for the Port Elizabeth-based Southern Kings.
The Junior Boks finished top of Pool C, top of all four semi-finalists and are still unbeaten after winning their three pool matches against Scotland, New Zealand and Samoa.
Home team NZ sneaked into the semis thanks to Wales’ win over France after they defeated Scotland to set up another mouthwatering clash with the Junior Boks at the QBE Stadium, Albany in Auckland.
On Thursday, Petersen said he and his team mates will have to be calm and focus on executing their game plan when they face NZ for the second time in two weeks at the same venue.
“We are working hard in training to be as well prepared as we can be for Sunday. For us it will be important to stay calm and to focus our game plan and structures. We know NZ will come hard at us and it will be another tough match to play,” said Petersen.
The EP Kings speedster, a South African junior athlete at schoolboy level, missed out on playing at the JWC last year in France because of a hamstring injury.
After three matches so far in Auckland, he commented on the standard of play at the competition: “It is extremely tough and the level of competition very high,” said Petersen. “The intensity and the pace of play are very high and demanding on each player.”
Petersen and his Junior Boks team mates will tackle NZ U20 this coming Sunday in the feature match of the day and kick-off is set for 09h35 SA time. England and Ireland play in the first semi-final at 07h05.
JWC semi-final stats
Here are some interesting JWC semi-final statistics, with the Junior Springboks featuring prominently:
- Ireland will be the eighth team to contest an IRB Junior World Championship semi-final after New Zealand, England, South Africa, France, Australia, Wales and Argentina.
- The fastest try scored in a JWC semi-final was by England wing Christian Wade after just three minutes of the 2011 last four encounter with France in Treviso. England went on to win 33-18.
- A total of 535 points have been scored in the 12 JWC semi-finals to date, which averages out to 44.58 points per last four encounters.
- The most points scored in a single semi-final is 61 back in 2009 when England beat South Africa 40-21 at the Prince Chichibu Memorial Stadium in Tokyo.
- The fewest points scored in a single semi-final is 35 last year when Wales edged South Africa 18-17 to reach a first Junior World Championship final.
- QBE Stadium will become the eighth venue to host a JWC semi-final after Rodney Parade (2008), Cardiff Arms Park (2008), Prince Chichibu Memorial Stadium (2009), Estadio El Coloso del Parque (2010), Stadio Comunale di Monigo (2011), DHL Newlands (2012) and Stade de la Rabine (2013).
- Eighteen is the fewest points scored by a winning semi-finalist – by Wales in overcoming South Africa in 2013.
- Forty points is the most points scored by a winning semi-finalist – by England in ending the Junior Boks’ hopes at the same stage in 2009.
- The most tries scored in a semi-final is six, which has happened three times – New Zealand v Australia (2009), England v South Africa (2009) and England v France (2011).
- The side scoring the most tries in almost every semi-final to date has been the winning side, the exception being Wales’ win over South Africa in 2013 when both scored two tries.
- The most penalties kicked in a semi-final is seven, which has been achieved twice – in England’s victories over South Africa in 2009 and New Zealand in 2013, the fewest is two in the 2009 encounter between New Zealand and Australia.