Baby Boks grow in confidence
Cape Town - The Baby Boks have grown in confidence after reaching their first-ever IRB Junior World Championship final.
The South African junior side laid waste to hitherto unbeaten Argentina with a four-try-to-nil, 35-3 triumph at Newlands on Sunday evening.
Baby Boks captain Wian Liebenberg said everything fell into place for the team after their shock 23-29 defeat at the hands of Ireland in their opening Pool B game in Stellenbosch.
"Everybody said we'd be in the final but we didn't really believe that," said Liebenberg.
"But then we just put that (defeat) behind us and concentrated on the next game.
"Luckily everything fell into place like England beating Ireland and ...everything continued to fall into place for us.
Liebenberg, who joined the semi-final action as a substitute, said his side's belief had been severely shaken but they grew in confidence following wins over Italy and highly-fancied England ahead of the semi-final.
"Thanks to the team, they just kept on playing well after that first loss and keeping their heads up."
Dawie Theron, the SA under-20 coach, said the Ireland setback had played its part in steeling the team's resolve to reach their JWC milestone.
"After the Ireland loss, we did soul-searching and it might sound ironical now but that was the best thing that could have happened to us," said Theron.
"If we didn't lose that match, we could have played New Zealand instead of Argentina in the semi.
"As it turns out, we'll now play New Zealand in the final.
Theron said they were aware of Argentina's prowess and knew they had their work cut out for them if they were to win.
"We'd beaten them twice earlier this year and we studied their play," Theron said.
"We knew that if we killed them at the source - the scrums and line-outs, and not allow them to maul, then we could disrupt them.
"That's what we did and we created a platform from the scrums and line-outs to play from.
"It made a huge difference and then we had a good kicking game on the night.
"Our defence was 100% and we kept our structures tidy."
Both Liebenberg and Theron felt the SA players had drawn greatly on the vociferous crowd support throughout the event.
"The atmosphere at Newlands was amazing, just as it was against Ireland and England," said Theron.
"We love to play at home and we're a very proud rugby nation.
"In the first match we didn't get the blend right but once we achieved that, the players responded magnificently to the cause and the crowd support just lifted them."