England U20s recorded a 35-8 victory over the Junior Springboks at Coventry’s Butts Park Arena on Friday.
Steve Bates’ side scored five tries in an attritional contest, with the fixture serving as a final opportunity for players to earn selection for next month’s World Rugby U20 Championships in Argentina.
England led 14-8 at the break via tries from Josh Hodge and Olly Adkins, as well as two conversions, with South Africa crossing the line through Asenathi Ntlabakanye with Jaden Hendrikse adding a penalty.
Connor Doherty crossed for a third England score with late tries from Joel Kpoku and debutant Izaiha Moore-Aiono sealing victory with Hodge converting all of his kicks.
The first score of the match came via Hodge, going over on the left wing after being released by Tom Willis following a fine break from debutant Jake Morris.
Ntlabakanye bundled over from close range for the visitors midway through the half reducing the deficit to just two points.
Hendrikse gave his side the lead with a penalty on the half hour mark but South Africa lost Marnus Potgieter to the sin bin for a deliberate knock-on just outside his own 5m line.
From the resulting scrum, Adkins went over for a second England try and Hodge’s penalty gave them a 14-8 lead at the break.
England lost Jon Kpoku to the sin bin for a deliberate knock-on just before the hour but they held out and, after being restored to the full compliment, crossed for a third try through Doherty, which Hodge converted.
Joel Kpoku added gloss to the scoreline with a late try for England before replacement Izaiha Moore-Aiono skipped over in the final play of the game.
England will head to Argentina next month for the World Rugby U20 Championships where they have been drawn in Pool B and will face Ireland (4 June), Italy (8 June) and Australia (12 June) before the knockout stages.
They are led by England U20s head coach Bates, who is assisted by Mark Hopley (forwards), James Scaysbrook (defence) and Richard Whiffin (attack) who joined for the season as part of the coach development programme agreement with Premiership Rugby.
Steve Bates said: “I was really pleased with some areas of our game, we scrummaged well and we took our opportunities.
“There wasn’t quite as much continuity as we would like, we’ve been working on that all week but we created three or four other scoring opportunities tonight that we didn’t take and that would have given the score a completely different complexion. Overall though, it’s progress from the Six Nations and a step in the right direction.
“The good thing about playing another fixture is that we’ve had a really good week’s training which has brought the squad a lot closer together and I think that is really beneficial. It’s always good to win against a southern hemisphere nation as we did tonight but we cannot read too much into it, but generally I think it was a good performance.”
15. Josh Hodge (Newcastle Falcons)
14. Charlie Powell (Bristol Bears)
13. Sam Spink (Wasps)
12. Connor Doherty (Sale Sharks)
11. Jake Morris (Gloucester Rugby)
10. Manu Vunipola (Saracens)
9. Gus Warr (Sale Sharks)
1. Olly Adkins (Gloucester Rugby)
2. Alfie Barbeary (Wasps) – Bloxham School
3. Marcus Street (Exeter Chiefs)
4. Joel Kpoku (Saracens)
5. James Scott (Worcester Warriors)
6. Tom Willis (Wasps) – captain
7. Andy Christie (Saracens)
8. Rusiate Tuima (Exeter Chiefs)
16. Ben Atkins (London Irish)
17. Kai Owen (Worcester Warriors)
18. Alfie Petch (Exeter Chiefs)
19. Jon Kpoku (Saracens)
20. Izaiha Moore-Aiono (London Irish)
21. Ollie Fox (Yorkshire Carnegie)
22. Will Haydon-Wood (Newcastle Falcons)
23. Jack Reeves (Gloucester Rugby)