The Junior Springboks outplayed France by 42-27 on Tuesday evening in Verona to finish top in Pool A and stay unbeaten at the U20 Six Nations Summer Series currently staged in Italy. They held a 17-12 half time lead through two converted tries and a penalty goal, while France replied with two tries and a conversion.
The scorching heat did not prevent the two sides to turn on the style in the second half, during which time the South Africans increased their dominance by adding three more tries to cap a richly deserved victory over a very good Under 20 French side.
As a result of their well-deserving triumph, the Junior Boks top Pool A win 15 points from three bonus point wins.
That means that Bafana Nhleko’s unbeaten team now awaits the outcome of tomorrow’s Pool B decider between hosts Italy and Wales to see who they will play in next week’s playoff spot for the overall Summer Series winner.
Junior Bok skipper and fly half, Sacha Mngomezulu, had an outstanding game with his ball distribution and kicking boot. He delivered a flawless kicking display by succeeding with four conversions and three penalty goals for a personal contribution of 17 points.
Hard-working No 7 Ruan Venter grabbed two tries, while inside centre Suleiman Hartzenberg, left wing Imad Khan and reserve hooker Lukhanyo Vokozela were the other try scorers.
The only blemish in a very good South African display was the yellow card for front-ranker Juann Else, while influential No 8 Cameron Hanekom had to leave the field early because of an injury, with Louw Nel taking over his duties at the back of the scrum.
The French played some enterprising rugby , but they were made to work hard to keep the South Africans at bay, who used their set piece and kicking game to good effect.
Coach Nhleko afterwards he was especially pleased with his side’s second half display.
“I felt we made it hard for ourselves in the first half because we didn’t take our opportunities and didn’t manage the game on our terms – that took energy away from us,” said the Junior Bok’s coach.
“ Once we stuck to our processes I though the boys did well, and there were character and composure in the second half.”
Regarding another winning display against a quality opponent, Nhleko added:
“We need to grow in our game management. I would also like to thank our strength and conditioning and medical departments for their work because the conditions (the heat and humidity) are tough, but our players were able to come through very well.
“The bodies are sore after three weeks so we will give them two days off to recover and then we will regroup to make sure our detail is there and that we are up for next physical challenge,” said Nhleko.
Junior Springboks 42 (17) – Tries: Ruan Venter (2), Suleiman Hartzenberg, Imad Khan, Lukhanyo Vokozela. Conversions: Sacha Mngomezulu (4). Penalty goals: Mngomezulu (3).
U20 France 27 (12) – Tries: Louis Bielle-Biarrey (2), Connor SA, Jules Coulon. Conversions. Leo Barre, Bielle-Biarrey. Penalty goal: Barre.