CAPE TOWN — The Junior Springboks clinched their two-match international rugby series 2-0 against Argentina Under-20 after beating Los Pumitas 39-28 in Rosario on Saturday with prop Jan van der Merwe helping himself to a hat-trick of tries in the first half.
South Africa return home from a successful tour after edging out the home team 25-22 on Tuesday in Santa Fe. The two teams used the series as final warmup exercise for the World Rugby Under-20 Championship in Italy next month.
On Saturday at the beautiful Club Gimnasia Stadium in Rosario, the Junior Boks raced into a commanding 25-6 halftime lead thanks to a trio of tries by front ranker Van der Merwe. Argentina struggled to match the visitors’ powerful forward surges and could only reply with two penalties.
The South Africans scored two more tries in the second half through Leolin Zas (wing) and Joseph Dweba (replacement hooker). However, they had to show great determination on defence against Los Pumitas, who stormed back with three tries in the second stanza.
Captain and number eight Hanro Liebenberg led with example with ball in hand and also did sterling work on defence. The Junior Boks dominated the scrums, were supreme in the lineouts and mauled powerfully, which resulted in three tries.
Juan Cruz Matilda, Santiago Resino and Ernesto Olmedo dotted down for the home side while centre Emiliano Bofelli kept his side in the match with a good kicking display, slotting over three penalties and a conversion.
Liebenberg praised his side’s display in defence, especially in the second half when Los Pumitas fought their way back into the match.
“We played some good rugby in the first half and used of our scoring opportunities to good effect. Argentina came back strongly in the second period and really tested our defence. I am thrilled the guys pulled it through and that we won the series 2-0 in the end,” said a satisfied Liebenberg.
Junior Springbok coach Dawie Theron said it is never easy to come away with a 2-0 series win over Argentina.
“We started much better on Tuesday and even while we were in control in the first half, I knew they would storm back. They played with passion and determination after the break and our players had to show real character.
“This group showed a lot of fight and a great willingness to grind out a win, despite the intimidating atmosphere,” explained Theron. The South Africans are expected to arrive home today afternoon in Johannesburg. — Sport24.
Tries: Juan Cruz Matilda, Santiago Resino, Ernesto Olmedo
Conversions: Emiliano Bofelli, Domingo Miotti
Penalties: Bofelli (3)
Tries: Jan van der Merwe (3), Leolin Zas, Joseph Dweba
Conversions: Brandon Thomson (4)
Penalties: Tomson (2)