Cape Town - Junior Springbok assistant coach Bafana Nhleko said the team had to make a massive step-up in their second World Rugby U20 Championship pool match against Ireland after a second-half fightback against Georgia earned them a 33-27 victory on Wednesday.
The SA U20’s will meet Ireland meet on Sunday at Stade d’Honneur du Parc des Sports et de l'Amitié in Narbonne at 16:30.
“The most important thing is that we got the result against Georgia,” Nhleko said looking back at Wednesday’s match.
“It was obviously not how we wanted to play, especially the way we started in the first half with the handling errors and some disciplinary issues that might have let us down. But we still left a lot of opportunities out there.
“We created chances, but our decision-making at the best of times didn’t go our way. If we were patient and earned the rewards from our initial efforts, it may have boosted our confidence and changed the game.
“That said, it is something we can learn from going forward.”
With Ireland coming off a heart-breaking 26-24 defeat against hosts, France, Nhleko said their performance will be fuelled by desperation, especially with the top team in every pool and the next best-placed team in the competition advancing to the semifinals.
The Junior Springboks currently top Pool C on points difference, as France also earned a bonus point win against Ireland.
“Ireland will be very desperate,” said Nhleko.
“They lost by two points yesterday. But we were not at our best against Georgia either, so we need to make a massive step-up.
“In a sense it is going to be semifinal for one side and a final for the other because every game is important in this tournament. And how a team moves on with a short turnaround means a lot.”
The team will go through their recovery procedures on Thursday before reviewing the match against Georgia and looking forward to the Ireland clash. They will return to training field on Friday to begin their preparation for Sunday’s encounter.
The SA U20’s will play their final pool match against France on Thursday, 7 June, also at Stade d’Honneur du Parc des Sports et de l'Amitié in Narbonne.