George - The South African Schools team and England on Tuesday remained unbeaten in the Under-18 International Series after registering second round of victories in the competition in an exciting day’s play at Outeniqua Park.
The SA Schools team defeated France 12-5 in a hard-fought encounter to close off the day’s play in front of a passionate crowd, while England thumped the SA Schools 'A' team 33-8.
These teams will square up against one another in the final round of the competition at City Park Stadium in Crawford, Cape Town, on Saturday in what will prove to be the competition decider.
In the other match Wales defeated Italy 32-10.
SA Schools 12 (9) France 5 (0)
The SA Schools team signalled their intentions early on against France as they applied pressure on attack from the outset, which earned fullback Curwin Bosch a penalty in the eighth minute to hand the team a 3-0 lead. The following exchanges were tight as both teams used their forwards in an attempt to gain ascendancy and defended well, which resulted in them opting for penalty goals to earn points. The scrums and mauls were particularly physical as both teams put their bodies on the line. Bosch tripled the hosts’ score to 9-0 in the 31st minute as he added two more penalties. France, meanwhile, tried hard to make their presence felt and managed to work their way five metres out from the SA Schools’ tryline three times in the last 10 minutes of the half, but the solid defence denied them from crossing the tryline.
The second half was equally tense, and with neither team giving an inch on defence, Bosch slotted over his fourth penalty 15 minutes after the break to extend their lead to 12-0. The hosts came the closest they had been to the tryline in the match soon after by taking advantage of a gap in the defence, but wing Wandisile Simelane was bundled into touch metres from the tryline. France hit back by forcing their way close to the hosts’ tryline twice in the closing minutes, and their strong-minded approach paid off as Thomas Darmon crashed over in the 70th minute to reduce the deficit to 12-5. France struck again in the dying seconds after being awarded a penalty, but the SA Schools team defended like demons to secure the 12-5 victory.
SA Schools - Penalties: Curwin Bosch (4)
France - Try: Thomas Darmon
SA Schools 'A' 8 (3) England 33 (26)
England started their clash against the SA Schools 'A' team with a bang as they scored their first of four first-half tries in the first minute compliments of fly half and captain Max Malins. The visitors dominated territory and possession in the opening 40 minutes by stringing together phases and forcing the SA Schools 'A' team to defend for long periods, and they earned the rewards as they accumulated 26 points in the half. In return the hosts were only able to slot over a penalty compliments of flyhalf Eddie Fouche, as they battled to breach the defence. Despite trailing far behind, however, the hosts defended well on their tryline at times, but the visitors’ tenacity allowed them to break through in the end.
England scored their fifth try six minutes into the second half as Theo Brophy Clews navigated his way through the defence, but this proved to be their only points in the second half as the hosts tightened up their defence and retained possession on attack. The SA Schools 'A' team’s determined efforts to force their way over the tryline finally paid off in the last 10 minutes as Abner van Reenen forced his way over the chalk to reduce the deficit to 33-8. They continued to show their fighting spirit until the final whistle, but they were unable to add to their score as England’s defence held.
SA Schools 'A' - Try: Abner Van Reenen. Penalty: Eddie Fouche
England - Tries: Gabriel Ibitoye, Josh Bayliss, Max Malins (2), Theo Brophy Clews. Conversions: Max Malins (3), Theo Brophy Clews