Cape Town - The SA Schools team on Friday overcame a determined England
outfit in their opening match of the Under-18 International Series at City Park
Stadium for a 19-14 victory and a strong start to the series.
The clash proved to be thrilling, as both sides showed fantastic skills,
brute physicality and put in a series of big hits.
England stamped their authority early on with No8 James Chisholm scoring
their first try in the fourth minute following a powerful scrum for a 7-0 lead.
SA, however, hit back with the team retaining possession and showing
good skills by off-loading in the tackle, which earned them a penalty. Grant
Hermanus, who was in fine form for Western Province at the Craven
Week, made the most of the opportunity and reduced the score to 7-3.
This bolstered SA’s confidence and prompted them to retain possession
and apply pressure on England, but unfortunately penalties and turnovers at
crucial times denied them a few try-scoring opportunities.
The team, however, showed patience on attack and continued to string
together phases, and they earned the rewards with inspirational captain and No 8
Rikus Bothma scoring their first try of the match in the 19th minute from solid forward
play. This handed the hosts a narrow 8-7 lead.
The second quarter, however, proved to be a hard grind as the forwards
battled it and out and both teams tightened up their defence. England, however,
got a sniff of the tryline in the dying seconds of the first half, but the
tenacious SA defence shut them out to maintain their one-point lead at the
The home team continued to assert their authority in the second half and
made their way to England’s half where they camped for a few minutes. A
fantastic inside pass to wing Duhan van der Merwe after stringing together a
few phases on attack, saw the player dance his way through the defence for
their second try. Unfortunately, however, the conversion proved unsuccessful.
But England hit back instantaneously with Chisholm scoring his second
try after picking up the ball from the base of the scrum and breaking through
to cross the tryline. Olver converted to hand the team a 14-13 lead.
This lead, however, was short-lived as Brandon Thomson slotted over the
team’s second penalty to sneak back into a two-point lead, and fortunately for
SA, they managed to maintain this until the end.
With the scores close both teams refused to give an inch which resulted
in hard-fought third quarter. England, however, used their effective rolling
maul well to get onto the front-foot and work their way into SA’s half. But an
intercept by Thomson and quick numbers at the breakdowns earned the home side
another penalty, which Thomson converted for a 19-14 lead.
England fought back with intent until the dying seconds, but their
efforts were countered by the determined SA defence, which sealed the victory.
In the other matches, the Wales Under-18’s beat France 29-17, while the Western
Province Invitational XV defeated Montpellier 36-31 and the Western Province
Under-18’s thumped Italy 39-17.
SA Schools 19 (8) - Tries: Rikus Bothma, Duhan van der Merwe. Penalties:
Grant Hermanus, Brandon Thomson (2).
England 14 (7) - Tries: James Chisholm (2). Conversions: Sam Olver (2).