Rugby

Baby Boks beaten by England

2014-06-20 11:17
Handre Pollard (Gallo)
Auckland - The Baby Boks came agonisingly close to regaining the IRB Junior World Championship title from England, but the defending champions did just enough to win a close fought battle 21-20 at Eden Park in Auckland on Friday.

As it happened: England v Baby Boks

Baby Boks coach, Dawie Theron, and captain, Handré Pollard, both praised the team for their overall performance during the three-week event. Both agreed England did very well to withstand a barrage of South African pressure late in the second half.

Theron said it was disappointing to lose what was a very physical battle.

“Finals are determined by small margins and we had two or three moments in the match where I thought it could definitely go our way. However, it wasn’t to be and England deserve credit for their ability to keep their composure when we put a lot of pressure on them.

“It is bitterly disappointing to lose, even by a single point, but I am extremely proud of this team. We have spent a lot of time together, the guys worked their socks off for each other and they gave everything for their jersey.

“This is an extremely talented group of players and I believe our future looks bright with these guys coming through the ranks. We became a close family the past three months and all of us are hurting at the moment,” said Theron who coached the Baby Boks to success in 2012.

Pollard said despite the heartbreak of defeat, there were a lot of positives to take from the tournament.

“We fought hard, but we were not good enough tonight. We played well, but they disrupted us at the set piece. I am still proud of the guys though. We played for each other and for the jersey until the end. Congratulations to England,” Pollard said.

He also had some comforting words for his team-mates: “I think the experience these guys got in this tournament taking them forward in their careers will help them develop and there is a lot of these guys who will be back next year and hopefully we can win it again.”

“You learn more from defeat than winning and the guys have got to learn from this, go back home and just keep working hard,” said Pollard.

Nervous start

A number of chances late in the match went astray and the South Africans could not get back in front after conceding the lead just before the break. Both sides had a nervous start, but with the England lineout dominated by lock JD Schickerling in the first half, the Baby Boks applied the pressure.

This resulted in an opening penalty to captain Pollard. England made the scores even as the South Africans fluffed the kick-off, but a Jesse Kriel try soon restored the lead.

The midfielder ran onto a deft Pollard chip to score.

Unfortunately the South Africans started to make some unforced errors and England capitalised, kicking a penalty and scoring a try through wing Nathan Earle just before the break. This gave them a slender half-time lead of 11-10.

The second half started well for England as flyhalf Billy Burns kicked another penalty to lead 14-10.

Pollard replied with a penalty, but a powerful maul by England secured a second try when Joel Conlon went over under a heap of bodies. The successful conversion stretched their lead to 21-13.

A second try by Kriel, easily converted by Pollard, gave the Baby Boks all to play for in the last 10 minutes. Pollard came close with a drop goal attempt, but his team ran out of time and England kept their composure to remain the JWC champions.

Scorers:

England:

Tries: Nathan Earle, Joel Conlon
Penalties: Billy Burns (2), Aaron Morris

South Africa:

Tries: Jesse Kriel (2)
Conversion: Handre Pollard (2)
Penalties: Pollard (2)

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