Junior Springboks show attacking flair to topple Georgia

BY MARC JACOBSON - JUNE 6, 2017
Junior Springboks show attacking flair to topple Georgia

The Junior Springboks boasted a much-redeemed performance when they thumped Georgia 38-14 in the World Rugby U20 Championship clash at the Avchala Stadium in Tbilisi on Sunday.

After an unconvincing 23-23 draw against France in their first Pool C clash, where South Africa had to score an after-death converted try on the 82nd minute to lock level, the Junior Boks finally broke the ice and found some apt rhythm in their tournament progression.

To their backing, the French encounter was played in dreadful wet conditions and barraging winds, but while this may be used as a scape for South Africa; the French had to play in those conditions too.

It was France who were, regardless of the draw, tactically smarter on the day and territorially clever, in a game that was kept as tight as they come. This after South Africa took an initial 10-0 lead before they suffered a retreating lapse of clever French tactics.

French flyhalf, Romain Ntamack, was at the pinnacle of their territory game and also managed to slot two drop goals with the wind at their backs in the second half. After the second, the French lead 23-13 with 26 minutes remaining.

Fortunately for the Junior Boks, they managed to attain composure and characterise a comeback onslaught, which they did through a Curwin Bosch penalty, and the after-siren try.

It was clear from that encounter, in tight conditions, that South Africa were not traditionally brute in forward dominance, but rather in other aspects.

This was mirrored in the Georgian clash, who are hosts of the tournament and had an abrasive crowd backing them, when again the Junior Boks forwards did not do the talking against a sizeable Georgian pack.

Credit to South Africa, though, their initial phase-play and continuity lead to their first try through eighth-man Juarno Augustus on the 16th minute, but for the rest of the game that style of play did not follow suit.

Georgia responded with determined muscle upfront, forcing penalties and making promising headway up-field, before eventually defence weaknesses seeped through for the home side to score an almost 50-metre try due to begging tackles gone missing in South Africa’s midfield.

Just when worry signs seemed to loom, Junior Boks’ centre Wandesile Simelane, beamed into space and showed slick footwork, to score a superb fast-paced try from about 40-metres out.

Sparks then flew when flyhalf Manie Libbok sent a kick through, followed by a grubber to jot down for another try before half-time taking a 19-7 lead.

In the game’s reset, right winger Yaw Penxe then out-flanked Georgia’s defence when the ball was sent out-wide for the wing to score in the corner. This capitalised on a 14-man Georgian side after they received a yellow card to a front-rower forward on the 50th minute.

Then in a probable try of the tournament which emerged from within South Africa’s own 22-metre area, great flair and interplay was shown between left winger Gianni Lombard and Libbok when exceptional pace and sublime offloads between the two created enough space inside for Simbine to score his second try.

Georgia then refused to be sunk down and buried, and scored a grubber-through try after a forward-moving maul near South Africa’s line.

Yet another range try from SA saw centre Damian Willemse make a line break, before another slick inside offload advantaged Libbok to get the better of Georgia’s scramble defence to score his second try of the day.

It was clear from interpretation that South Africa’s flair is their strength in this current U20 fold, and while the forwards did well to defend a momentous Georgian onslaught in the closing stages of the game, five of the six SA tries were scored from their backline’s mastery and envision.

Credit must also be given to Junior Boks’ captain and flanker, Ernst van Rhyn, for leading from the front and has currently made the most tackles in the competition so far with 33 totalled tackles.

Their bonus-point victory over Georgia with a decent margin sees them top the log, one point above Argentina and France, but noting that the French must still play the hosts on Thursday. On the same day, the Junior Boks will play Argentina in a pool-defining clash – but it is up to them to utilize where their strengths lie.