Cape Town - Junior Springbok coach Chean Roux praised his team’s character on Saturday as they finished off their second training camp on a high with a rewarding 24-5 victory against the Free State Cheetahs at Shimla Park in Bloemfontein.
The first half was a tight affair as the teams tested one another throughout the half in wet conditions, but the Junior Boks broke loose in the second half and scored three unanswered tries to take their total for the match to four.
“It was a very rewarding victory,” said Roux. “I said from the outset of the camp that the score is not important to us, and that our main focus from the warm-up matches was to get tough competition to prepare us well for the World Rugby U20 Championship.
“The Free State Cheetahs match was excellent in that regard because it was a challenging match in wet and windy conditions, which exposed us to different playing conditions.”
Roux took several positives from the clash and said: “Our defence was very good and with that comes character. We also played well in the lineouts and we kept going for the full 80 minutes, which is pleasing because it shows that our conditioning is paying off.”
Roux, however, did not allow the victory to cloud his view of the way forward and said: “It is nice to see things coming together, but we still have a lot of work to do before the tournament.”
The Free State Cheetahs dominated possession in the first quarter and tried to apply pressure on the Junior Boks in the set pieces, but Roux’s team sustained the pressure and managed to shut them out on defence despite having to defend for long periods.
The hosts struck first in the 20th minute with Joseph Dweba crossing the tryline from a lineout drive, but the conversion was unsuccessful, which saw the Free State Cheetahs take a 5-0 lead.
The Junior Springboks fought back strongly with a series of pick-and-goes on the home team’s tryline, but a knock-on denied them from scoring in the 26th minute.
Their determined efforts on attack paid off in the 31st minute after Manie Libbok dashed through a gap in the defence following good pressure from the forwards. His conversion attempt hit the upright, which left the teams tied at 5-5, and they maintained this score going into the break.
Roux’s team continued to build momentum in the second half with flanker and captain Nama Xaba crossing the chalk in the 49th minute from a strong shove by the forwards, while his loose trio partner Hacjivah Dayimani broke through a tackle seven minutes later and dashed to the line to score the team’s third try. This handed the Junior Boks a 17-5 lead.
Junior Bok lock Ruben de Villiers added the team’s fourth try with 11 minutes to play as he gathered a loose ball from a lineout and dived over the tryline, which pushed the team 24-5 ahead.
Both teams continued to apply pressure in the dying minutes, but were unable to add to their score, which allowed the SA U20’s to secure the victory.
Junior Springboks 24 (5) – Tries: Manie Libbok, Nama Xaba, Hacjivah Dayimani, Ruben de Villiers. Conversions: Manie Libbok, Jean-Luc Cilliers.
Toyota Free State Cheetahs 5 (5) – Try: Joseph Dweba.