Stellenbosch - The Junior Springboks were made to work hard for their 31-24 victory over the Varsity Cup Dream Team in front of an electric crowd in Stellenbosch.
The Junior Boks trailed 12-10 at the half-time interval but a massive all-round second half performance saw them grind out a hard fought victory over a plucky and spirited Dream Team.
The Dream Team were dominant in the opening minutes of the game and enjoyed majority of the possession as they pinned Dawie Theron's charges inside their 22 thanks to some hard work by the massive pack of forwards.
The Junior Boks made some headway on their first attack with Leolin Zas showing some serious pace down the left touchline.
However, the Dream Team scrambled well to snuffle the attack as the match remained scoreless after 10 minutes.
Innocent Radebe proved to be a handful as he controlled the game like a seasoned pro off the back of the excellent work by the pack.
The first points of the match came in the 22nd minute when the Dream Team was awarded a penalty try after Dan du Preez collapsed a rolling maul from a five metre line-out.
Radebe duly popped over the conversion to hand the Dream Team a 7-0 lead.
It took the Junior Springboks all of 37 minutes to register their first points of the match as Daniel du Plessis rounded off a well-executed backline counter-attack to score under the poles.
Ernst Stapelberg added the extra points to level matters at 7-7.
Their joy was short-lived though as Rhyno Smith proved why he was voted the Player That Rocks when he showed a clean pair of heels to score in the left corner after receiving an exceptional pass from John-Roy Jenkinson.
The Junior Springboks would have the final say of the first half though as Stapelberg slotted over an easy conversion after the Dream Team were caught in an offside position.
The Dream Team led 12-10 at the half-time interval.
The Junior Springboks came out firing in the second half and got immediate reward when a maul from a five metre line-out worked its magic to allow Jan van der Merwe to grab their second try of the match – and also the lead.
Stapelberg extended the lead to 18-12 when he slotted an easy penalty after the Dream Team gave away a needless penalty in front of the uprights in the 48th minute.
Dillon Smit showed his attacking capabilities and finishing prowess when he punished the Junior Boks in the 60th minute by displaying some nifty footwork to grab the Dream Team’s third try of the match.
Smith added the extra points to help the Dream Team regain the lead, albeit by a solitary point.
The Junior Boks were back in the lead in the 65th minute when Abongile Nonkontwana sprinted his way to the try line, only for Dayan van der Westhuizen to stop him with the use of a high tackle as the try line beckoned.
A penalty try – and yellow card for van der Westhuizen – was awarded with Brandon Thomson adding the extra points for a 25-19 lead.
The Dream Team went on the attack from the restart and the 14-men tasted success in the 6th minute when Elandre Hugget grabbed their fourth try of the match when he benefited from a well-executed maul from a five metre line-out to reduce the deficit to 24-25.
The intensity of the match remained high as the Junior Boks went in search of more points and found three in the 73rd minute through the boot of Thomson who punished the Dream Team for repeated infringements inside their 22.
Thomson closed out the coring with a 75th minute penalty to hand the Junior Springboks a hard fought 31-24 victory.
Varsity Cup Dream Team: 24 - Tries: Penalty try, Smith, Smit, Hugget; Conversions: Radebe, Smith
Junior Springboks: 31 - Tries: Du Plessis, Van der Merwe, Penalty try; Conversions: Stapelberg, Thomson; Penalties: Stapelberg (2), Thomson (2)
Yellow cards: Dan du Preez (Junior Springboks, 22 – professional foul; collapsing the maul), Dayan van der Westhuizen (Dream Team, 65 – dangerous play; high tackle preventing a try scoring opportunity)
Varsity Cup Dream Team:
15 Rhyno Smith, 14 Maphutha Dolo, 13 Rowayne Beukman, 12 Johan Deysel, 11 Jean-Paul Lewis, 10 Innocent Radebe, 9 Dillon Smit, 8 Jeandre Rudolph, 7 Henco Venter, 6 Wiaan Liebenberg, 5 Reniel Hugo (captain), 4 Irne Herbst, 3 John-Roy Jenkinson, 2 Chad Solomon, 1 Johan Smith
Substitutes: 16 Nqobisizwe Mxoli, 17 Elandre Hugget, 18 Dayan van der Westhuizen, 19 Walt Steenkamp, 20 Gerhard Olivier, 21 Mthokozisi Mkhabela, 22 Johnny Welthagen, 23 Lihleli Xoli
15 Warrick Gelant, 14 Kanyo Ngcukana, 13 JT Jackson, 12 Daniel du Plessis, 11 Leolin Zas, 10 Ernst Stapelberg, 9 Ivan van Zyl, 8 Hanro Liebenberg, 7 Dan du Preez, 6 CJ Velleman, 5 RG Snyman, 4 Abongile Nonkontwana, 3 Ruan Kramer, 2 Joseph Dweba, 1 Ox Nche
Substitutes: 16 Mzamo Majola, 17 Jan van der Merwe, 18 Frans van Wyk, 19 Jason Jenkins, 20 Jean-Luc du Preez, 21 Marco Janse van Vuuren, 22 Brandon Thomson, 23 Grant Hermanus