Cape Town - The Junior Springboks scored their second-bonus point win of the 2015 World Rugby Under-20 Championship when they delivered a powerful forward display to beat Samoa 40-8 on Saturday evening in Parma.
The South Africans forwards scored three tries in the first half to showcase their dominance upfront, while two more tries in the second half capped off a satisfying performance by the team who will now face Australia on Wednesday in what could be a pool decider.
The pool winners qualify automatically for the semi-finals on June 15.
The opening two tries came from a powerful display by the forwards and South Africa comfortably lead 21-3 at halftime.
Big prop Thomas du Toit was the first to crash over as early as the 10th minute. They had to wait until a few minutes before halftime, when lock Jason Jenkins crashed over after Samoa elected not to contest the line-out. In between flyhalf Brandon Thomson kicked over three penalties and a conversion.
Samoa struggled in the scrum where the South Africans had the upper-hand throughout, while only desperate defence at times stopped the Junior Boks from crossing over for more tries.
South Africa started the second half in dominant mood and were rewarded with two tries in less than ten minutes. Captain and No 8 Hanro Liebenberg scored the forward’s third try of the evening and left wing Leolin Zas finally got the backs on the scoreboard when he dotted down after a fine break and equally good offload from inside centre Daniel du Plessis.
That try brought up the much-needed bonus point with the score at 33-3, which allowed the South Africans to earn their second successive five point win. With 14 minutes left to play on the clock Samoan substitute fullback Pisi Leilua scored with a spectacular dive in the corner while left wing Malu Falaniko kicked a penalty for the Samoan total of eight points.
South Africa were awarded a penalty try in the dying moments after Samoa could not cope with the Junior Bok scrumming power. This was converted by Thinus de Beer in the final act of play.
Junior Springbok captain, Hanro Liebenberg, praised his team afterwards. "This was a much better show than against Italy in our opening match. Our set-pieces worked very well today, although I think we can still improve in our line-out play," Liebenberg said.
"We will now go and study the play of Australia and do some homework on them to prepare for the final pool match," Liebenberg said.
Coach Dawie Theron commented afterwards:
“We know that we have a strong pack of forwards this year and they showed what they can do tonight. We are working very hard on our line-outs and our driving mauls and got the reward. However, I do think we must hold onto the ball much longer and keep it under control so that we can get more points on the board.
“I think this team is a real quality team this year but we are not playing to our full potential and I would say we are playing at about 70 percent of where I want us to be. Our decision-making also need to improve.
“Our focus now turn to Australia who we face in our last pool match on Wednesday. We know they are a well-organised team and that match will be tough. We will prepare with two field sessions and do our homework thoroughly,” said Theron.
Junior Springboks 40 (21): Tries: Thomas du Toit, Jason Jenkins, Hanro Liebenberg, Leolin Zas and Penalty Try. Conversions: Brandon Thomson (2). Thinus de Beer. Penalties: Thomson (3).
Samoa 8 (3). Try: Pisi Leilua. Penalty: Malu Falaniko.