Cape Town - The Junior Springboks were made
to fight hard to overcome a courageous Argentina Under-20 rugby team 25-22 in
the first of two matches between the sides late on Tuesday in Santa Fe,
Los Pumitas led 15-10 at half-time after
they dominated possession and territory while playing with a strong wind in
their favour in the first half. They scored two tries and a penalty to take a
deserved lead, while the Baby Boks answered with a converted try and a penalty
to stay within distance despite their many unforced errors.
The young South Africans used their
dominance in the scrums and set pieces to much better effect in the second
half, adding a penalty and an excellent try to edge out the hosts in front of a
Los Pumitas took an early 5-0 lead after
prop Christian Bartolini barged his way over in the corner with less than three
minutes on the clock. SA Under-20 flyhalf Ernst Stapelberg slotted a penalty
seven minutes later to make the score 5-3, but it was the home team who crossed
the line again after flank Jose Deheza finished a sweeping move (12-3).
Fullback Emiliano Bofelli then hit the
target with his first penalty kick after the visitors were penalised for a
repeated offence, which also saw left wing Leolin Zas yellow carded.
With the breeze in their favour, the Baby Boks
made a better start in the second half. Grant Hermanus took the final pass to
dot down after an impressive passage of forward play.
That try levelled the scores at 15-all and
South Africa took the lead for the first time several minutes later via the
boot of Stapelberg who succeeded with a penalty (18-15). However, just minutes
later the home team regained the lead when Bofelli ran in to score for a try
which he also converted (22-18).
With the clock marching on and Los Pumitas
defending courageously, the Baby Boks were made to fought extremely hard for
their winning try. It eventually came via a strong run down the middle from
impressive No 8 Dan du Preez. When Stapelberg added the conversion it secured a
hard-fought 25-22 victory.
Dawie Theron, the Junior Springbok coach,
was a relieved man afterwards.
“We had a long journey coming here, had
only one full training session and a bus trip of more than two hours to the
stadium today. I told the players this match would be a huge test of character
for them and Argentina did exactly what we expected, making it extremely
difficult for us to play our normal game. They were strong upfront and tackled
as if their lives depended on it,” explained Theron.
Theron admitted his harsh words during half-time
had the desired effect on his players in the second half.
“We were much more composed and calm and
that allowed us to eventually fight our way back successfully. I’m pleased with
the effort and the character of the guys, but we now also know the areas where
we must work on for the next match,” added Theron.
The two teams meet again next Saturday in
Tries: Christian Bartolini, Jose Deheza,
Conversions: Bofelli (2)
Tries: Michael Jaer, Grant Hermanus, Dan du
Ernst Stapelberg (2)
Penalties: Stapelberg (2)