SA Schools coach Lance Sendin on Saturday lauded his team’s character as a last-gasp try secured them a 13-12 victory against England in the final round of the U19 International Series at Paarl Boys’ High to secure a whitewash in the tournament.
In a strange twist to the final day’s play, a missed conversion by the SA Schools A team, meanwhile, saw them go down 17-18 against Wales. In the opening match of the day, Italy defeated France 30-21.
“The guys hung in there against England and showed guts and good character,” said Sendin. “The players became men today because this was a hard-fought Test match. The victory was also just reward for all their hard work, and I am very proud that they finished the tournament unbeaten.”
Erasmus, meanwhile, admitted that his team was not at their best against Wales and said: “I am very disappointed, we didn’t play as well as we wanted to. But looking back at the tournament as a whole, it was a fantastic opportunity for the players to measure themselves against international competition.”
The SA Schools team struck first in their clash against England with fullback Gianni Lombard slotting over a penalty goal in the 17th minute, after missing an earlier attempt. This lead, however, was short-lived as England scored a try from a pick-and-go compliments of No 8 Tom Willis. Both teams were dealt a blow soon after as they were reduced to 14 men, while England found themselves playing with 13 men for three minutes in the closing stages of the half as they received a second yellow card. The hosts, in particular, showed courage on attack as they ran hard at England, but mistakes at crucial times combined with the visitors’ tenacious defence left them trailing 5-3 at the break.
The second half was equally intense, but England used their powerful forwards well to force their way onto the front foot, and it paid off as Willis scored his second try to hand them a 12-3 lead. Lombard slotted over his second penalty goal in the 54th minute to reduce the deficit to 12-6, which put them within range of winning the match with a converted try. And they did just that as captain Salmaan Moerat crashed over on the stroke of fulltime. The successful conversion by Lombard sealed the 13-12 win.
The first half between the SA Schools A team and Wales was tight as both sides tried hard to make their presence felt on attack and put their bodies on the line on defence. Each side lost a player to a yellow card during the first 15 minutes, but the SA Schools A team managed to score a try from a rolling maul compliments of flanker Francke Horn. The home team, however, suffered a blow shortly before the break as flyhalf Tyrone Green was sin-binned, but their solid defence throughout the half limited Wales to only a penalty despite their determined efforts to cross the chalk.
Wales continued to threaten in the opening exchanges of the second half, which allowed scrumhalf Dane Blacker to dash to the tryline for an 8-7 lead while Green was still in the sin bin. SA Schools A fullback Austin Davids missed a penalty soon after, but Green pushed the side ahead with a stunning try after kicking the ball through and gathering to touch down. The remaining minutes were thrilling as Wales scored two tries, while Mark Snyman scored a vital try for the hosts in the last minute. The unsuccessful conversion, however, saw them go down 18-17.
SA Schools 13 (3) England 12 (5)
SA Schools – Try: Salmaan Moerat. Conversion: Gianni Lombard. Penalty Goals: Gianni Lombard (2).
England – Tries: Tom Willis (2). Conversion: James Grayson.
SA Schools A 17 (7) Wales 18 (3)
SA Schools A – Tries: Franke Horn, Mark Snyman, Tyrone Green. Conversion: Austin Davids.
Wales – Tries: Cameron Lewis, Corey Baldwin, Dane Blacker. Penalty Goal: Ben Jones.