SA Schools clinch opener
Handre Pollard (Gallo Images)
Wellington - The SA Schools scored three tries to one to record a deserved 17-7 victory over France Under-18 in their Under-18 International Series at the Hugenote High School in Wellington on Friday afternoon.
The teams were level at 7-all at halftime.
England did just enough to beat Wales 28-25 in an exciting, open encounter after leading 16-8 at the interval.
The South African schoolboys made a bright start against their more experienced visitors and took the lead as early as the third minute when livewire right wing, Sergeal Petersen, raced through untouched to score from a clever set piece. Flyhalf, Handre Pollard, slotting over the easy conversion.
Petersen was a threat throughout with his support play and especially his turn of speed when in possession. Strong inside centre Rohan Janse van Rensburg also had a fine outing and rounded off a good performance for the home team when he scored their third try with just minutes remaining on the clock.
The SA Schools’ performance was indicative of a team playing together for the first time. Their macro pack of forwards gave them a solid platform upfront, but they were far too eager to run the ball whereas a few extra phases would have been a better option.
France slowly clawed their way back into the match after they were forced to tackle for much of the first half. Hooker Romain Ruffenach crashed over beneath a heap of bodies following a maul to level matters at the break.
Grey PE flyer Petersen continued his impressive performance in the second half and he was prominent on the attack alongside Janse van Rensburg and left wing Duhan van der Merwe.
Three minutes after the restart burly prop Dayan van der Westhuizen scored the SA Schools’ second try after France hardly had a touch following the kick-off. However, the home team spilled a couple of tries with handling errors but did manage to keep the French youngsters busy by launching several waves of attacks.
The sturdy Janse van Rensburg got his deserved try with just under two minutes remaining on the clock when he finally managed to breach the overworked French defence to score near the corner.
The next round of fixtures will be played on Tuesday, 14 August in George, when England U18 play against France U18 and the SA Schools team tackle Wales U18.
Peter Jooste, head of the SA selectors, said he was reasonably pleased with the performance of the SA Schools team. “They deserve their win against a team that has played together many times. Our boys will get better as the series progress and I am looking forward to the next match against Wales Under-18.
“Our forwards need to work on some aspects and the cohesion was lacking at times, but that is understandable. The backs showed a lot of initiative and creativity,” said Jooste. Scorers:
SA Schools 17 (7): Tries: Sergeal Petersen (right wing), Dayan van der Westhuizen (prop) and Rohan Janse van Rensburg (inside centre); Conversion: Handre Pollard (flyhalf)
France Under-18 7 (7): Try: Romain Ruffenach (hooker); Conversion: Yohan le Bourhis (flyhalf).