Baby Boks lose it late on

The Star Early Edition - - SPORT - WYNONA LOUW Cape Town

Ju­nior Spring­boks ........................ 22 Eng­land......................................... 24

IT WAS tough from the very start for the Ju­nior Spring­boks, and the fact that they led up to the 70th minute will make their World Rugby Un­der-20 Championship semi-fi­nal de­feat to Eng­land even tougher to deal with.

But, to be fair, Eng­land called the shots right from the start and showed just why they made it into the play­offs un­beaten.

The Ju­nior Boks, who re­lied on a kick­ing game in the early stages of the game, spent a great deal of the match de­fend­ing, and when they did take con­trol of the ball, they looked good. But Eng­land just looked bet­ter.

The de­fend­ing cham­pi­ons’ half­back pair­ing of Alex Mitchell and Max Malins showed game-man­age­ment be­yond their years, while skip­per and No 8 Zach Mercer ex­hib­ited su­perb skill and ran in two tries to help his side progress to the fi­nal.

In the South African team, Juarno Au­gus­tus’ phys­i­cal­ity and grit gave Eng­land a tough time at the break­downs, while he also con­trib­uted to the side with big tack­les and, of course, two tries (he has scored in ev­ery game).

The de­fend­ing cham­pi­ons got the open­ing try when cap­tain Mercer fin­ished off great in­ter­play be­tween the for­wards and backs to score, and the Baby Boks an­swered with a try of their own when Au­gus­tus crossed the try-line af­ter some en­ter­pris­ing play by Chean Roux’s team that started all the way back in their own 22 with a great break (and a top fend) by fly­half Cur­win Bosch to make it 7-7 at the Mikheil Meskhi Sta­dium in Tbil­isi, Ge­or­gia.

Eng­land got their sec­ond try when Malins broke through to send scrumhalf Mitchell over, and the pivot added a penalty to ex­tend Eng­land’s lead to 17-7.

Au­gus­tus scored his sixth try of the tour­na­ment af­ter nu­mer­ous driv­ing phases by the SA U20s. Bosch missed with his con­ver­sion (half-time 17-12).

The Baby Boks started to dom­i­nate the set-pieces in the third quar­ter, and af­ter some im­pres­sive work by the for­wards, took the lead for the first time when Ruben van Heer­den forced his way over for a con­verted try (19-17).

With 10 min­utes to go, a Bosch penalty ex­tended the lead to 22-17. But Mercer shrugged off three de­fend­ers to score the five-pointer that se­cured Eng­land’s fifth con­sec­u­tive fi­nal spot.

Ju­nior Spring­boks: Tries: Juarno Au­gus­tus (2), Ruben van Heer­den. Con­ver­sions: Bosch (2). Penal­ties: Bosch

Eng­land: Tries: Zach Mercer (2), Alex Mitchell. Con­ver­sions: Malins (3). Penal­ties: Max Malins

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