The South Africa U20s conceded their first defeat in the 2011 IRB Junior World Championship on Saturday evening after going down 26-20 to England in their final Pool C clash played in Padova.
The Baby Boks secured a bonus point for losing by six points, but missed out on a semi-final position due to the loss and an inferior points’ differential to Australia who conceded a 31-25 defeat to France in their third Pool C game played in Treviso.
Flyhalf Johan Goosen kicked five penalties while South Africa’s only try of the match was scored by DHL Western Province Nizaam Carr. England ran in three five pointers which were scored by winger Christian Wade, centre Elliot Daly and eighthman Alex Gray. Flyhalf George Ford slotted three penalties and converted Wade’s try.
The Baby Boks had opportunities to snatch the victory during the final stages of the match, but were unable to round off those chances which were presented at the end. The South Africans were good at scrum time and were solid in the line-outs. However the team coached by Dawie Theron was guilty of conceding numerous handling errors at crucial passages of the game.
Both teams were locked at 11-11 at the half time break after Daly scored the game’s opening try. England then enjoyed an 8-0 lead when Ford kicked his first penalty of the match. The Baby Boks then hit back with a try by Carr before Goosen and Ford traded penalties to take the score to 11-8. The former Grey College pivot then slotted a penalty before the break to level the score at 11-11.
England hit back immediately after the restart after Gray crashed in to score his team’s second five-pointer of the match (16-11). South African then launched a couple of attacks on the England try line, but were unable to breach the rock solid defensive effort of England.
Goosen then kicked two more penalties while George a further three-pointer to leave the score at 17-19. South Africa were then dealt a huge blow when replacement winger Wade slit the Baby Boks defence to score his team’s third try of the match which was converted by George (26-17). With three minutes remaining on the clock Goosen slotted his five penalty of the match to reduce the deficit to 26-20.
The Baby Boks mounted a few attacks in the final moments of the match, but were unable to breach the defensive effort of England.
“We are naturally disappointed with the defeat, but the guys showed plenty of guts to battle on till the end,” said Theron.
“Everyone – players and management – are gutted with the result. We created numerous opportunities to score points, and on the day composure and patience I guess cost us a close game which could have gone either way.
“We’ve got two more matches to go, and I am positive that the 26 players here in Italy will go all out to show South Africa what this team is capable of. Our goal now is to end this tournament with two victories.”
Scorers: South Africa – Try: Nizaam Carr; Penalties: Johan Goosen (5). England – Tries: Alex Gray, Christian Wade, Elliot Daly; Conversion: George Ford; Penalties: George Ford (3)