A last-minute try by Argentinean XV reserve winger Rodrigo Ponce De León consigned the SA U20 team to an 8-7 defeat in their opening tour warm up match played at the Lawn Tennis Club in Santiago del Estero on Wednesday night.
Both teams struggled to gain much momentum in this match due to severe rain. As a result the first points of the game were scored in the 73rd minute of the game when reserve fullback Sebastián Poet slotted a penalty kick after the Baby Boks were penalised for an infringement at the breakdown (3-0).
The South Africans though hit back almost immediately, and with five minutes remaining in the match, Vodacom Blue Bulls U19 captain Arno Botha crashed over the try line to score the visitors’ first points of the game. Botha’s five-pointer was converted by fullback Ulrich Beyers (7-3).
However in the final minute of play, reserve winger De León dived in at the corner to score his team’s first try of the fixture and snatch victory for the hosts. The SA U20s scrummed well and were good in the line-outs, but struggled to put together many phases of play due to the many handling errors with the slippery ball.
SA U20 coach Dawie Theron rested the likes of flyhalf Johan Goosen, centre Francois Venter, No 8 Siya Kolisi, flank Nizaam Carr, lock Eben Etzebeth, fullback Riaan Britz and scrumhalf Rick Schroeder for this match against the Argentinean XV. These players are all expected to be named in the SA U20 team for their first friendly against Argentina U20 in Santiago on Saturday.
“We are naturally disappointed to have conceded a defeat in our first tour match,” said the Baby Bok coach.
“The wet conditions didn’t help us either, but it was the same for both teams. We obviously have lots of preparation that lies ahead. But to be honest, and without making too many excuses, for us as a team, it’s about building as a squad and gaining that valuable experience of playing against foreign opposition.
“This was definitely a huge learning experience for many of the youngsters. But I am reasonably satisfied with the rate in which the guys adapted to local conditions here in Argentina, especially if you consider that we arrived here late Sunday night and have only had two days to prepare for this game.
“We’re going to have to grow as a team as we prepare for the IRB Junior World Champs in Italy in June, and there’s going to be bumps along the way. Let’s rather take the hits now than in June when there will be no excuses.”
SA U20 Team – Ulrich Beyers (Blue Bulls), Sizo Maseko (Western Province), Michael Van Der Spuy (Western Province), John Welthagen (Platinum Leopards), Emil Schwarz (The Sharks), Tony Jantjies (Blue Bulls), Pieter Rademan (Free State Cheetahs), Cornell Du Preez (Platinum Leopards), Jean Cook (Free State Cheetahs), Francois Kleinhans (The Sharks), Wilhelm Van Der Sluys (Western Province), Ruan Venter (Golden Lions), Nic Schonert (The Sharks), Michael van Vuuren (Free State Cheetahs), Steven Kitshoff (Western Province). Substitutes: Mbongeni Mbonambi (Blue Bulls), Stephan Kotze (Free State Cheetahs), Carl Wegner (Free State Cheetahs), Arno Botha (Blue Bulls), Kevin Luiters (Free State Cheetahs), Wandile Mjekevu (Golden Lions), Riaan Britz (Free State Cheetahs).
Scorers: Argentinean XV – Try: Rodrigo Ponce de León; Penalty: Sebastián Poet. South Africa U20 – Try: Arno Botha; Conversion: Ulrich Beyers.