The SA Under-20s on Thursday night secured a morale boosting 31-16 victory over the EP Kings in their final match in preparation for this year’s IRB Junior World Championship which takes place in Italy.
The Baby Boks ran in four tries and held their Port Elizabeth opponents to only one five-pointer in a match where both teams looked to run the ball through most passages of play.
“It was a hard physical game, something that we wanted as this was our last match before we depart to the IRB Junior World Championships in Italy,” said SA Under-20 coach Dawie Theron.
“This game can be viewed in two ways – we managed to score four tries, and we held a physical EP side to only one. Our forwards physically matched them and I was happy with our composure under all the pressure Eastern Province put us under.
“To us this match was about fine tuning our combinations, and testing certain game patterns. Twenty five of the 26 players going to Italy had a bit of a chance, and overall, I must admit that I am happy with the standard of our play.
“Obviously this team is work in progress, but there are more positives than negatives that we’ll take with us to Italy. We have bought into a certain style of play that we intend to execute at the IRB Junior World Championships, and I believe we are on the right track.”
The SA U20s turned down numerous penalty opportunities at goal and opted for line-out set plays throughout the game. The Baby Boks enjoyed a 21-13 half time lead after scoring three five-pointers, two coming from line-out play.
Lock Eben Etzebeth and prop John Roy Jenkinson scored the opening two five-pointers which were both converted by flyhalf Johan Goosen. The South African team’s third try was scored by scrumhalf Pieter Rademan. His five-pointer was also converted by Goosen.
The EP Kings’ points in the first half was scored thanks to an intercept try by fullback Justin Peach. His five-pointer was converted by flyhalf Coyi Banda, who also added two penalties during the first half.
SA U20 captain Arno Botha then scored the first points of the second half in the 59th minute of the match after Goosen broke the EP Kings defence to put his skipper under the posts to score his first five-pointer of the game. Goosen kicked the conversion to stretch the Baby Boks’ lead to 28-13.
Banda then kicked his third penalty of the evening after the Baby Boks were penalised for offside play shortly after Botha’s try (28-16). Goosen added the final points of the match thanks to a drop goal in the 72nd minute of the match to steer the SA U20s to a 31-16 victory.
Scorers: EP Kings – Try: Justin Peach; Conversion: Coyi Banda; Penalties: Banda (3) .SA U20s – Tries: Eben Etzebeth, John Roy Jenkinson, Pieter Rademan, Arno Botha; Conversions: Johan Goosen (4). Drop goal: Goosen.