Scotland U20 fall short against Junior Boks
Scotland’s 2019 World Rugby U20 Championship began in defeat this afternoon as South Africa ran in three late tries to secure an imposing opening round victory at Rosario’s Racecourse Stadium.
Despite the, eventually, lopsided score line, the match was anything but a cakewalk for the physical and athletic Junior Boks outfit.
With the match evenly balanced (17-12) at the break, Carl Hogg’s young squad were well in it for large shares of the encounter, however South Africa showcased their strength and depth with late tries from JJ van der Mescht and replacements Sanele Nohamba and Kudzwai Dube, all of which added undoubted gloss to the score line.
Scotland’s first half points came from a penalty try and a short distance lunge from prop Murphy Walker - both arising from dominant forward play that saw Scotland’s pack use a powerful rolling maul to their advantage.
Although South Africa stretched their lead, with impressive scrum-half Jaden Hendrikse adding the finishing touches to a sweeping backline attack, Scotland battled back through centre Cameron Anderson’s score, making it just a three-point game with 17 minutes to play (22-19).
However South Africa stepped up their intensity in the final stages of the fiery encounter and with Scotland out on their feet, the Junior Boks eventually powered their way to victory.
Speaking following the match, captain Connor Boyle praised the work rate of his teammates, but admitted there is still plenty of work to do as the age-grade side prepare to face New Zealand on Saturday night.
“Going into half-time, we knew we were right in it, but we came out in that second period and created four or five chances that we unfortunately just didn’t take.
“South Africa were very accurate and with every line break they seemed to execute well and score tries. We lost the ball at several key stages in the game, and you just can’t do that at this level.
“We knew how South Africa were going to play off nine, and we worked on that defensive structure all week. We’re pretty disappointed with how we let their runners penetrate that defence and they certainly made us pay.
"We’ll go away and reflect on a performance where I thought there was a lot of positives to take. We’ll regroup and come out all guns firing with New Zealand next up." Scotland U20 captain, Connor Boyle
South Africa opened the scoring through Hendrikse’ well-struck penalty (3-0), however Scotland battled back and took the lead through prop, Walker.
Following a series of darts at the line, the Stirling County man did well to bundle over from only metres out with plenty of South African defensive pressure. (3-5)
The Junior Boks would regroup, however, and were back in front soon thereafter. Firstly No.8 Francke Horn had the pace and power to finish from 20 metres out (10-5), before scrum-half Hendrikse hit an intelligent support line to dot down under the sticks (17-5).
South Africa were in a dominant position, but Carl Hogg’s squad continued to battle away and were soon rewarded for their patience at set-piece.
As the pack rumbled towards the promised land, Emile van Heerden collapsed the maul and the referee had no other option but to award the penalty try and send the second-row to the bin on the stroke of half-time (17-12).
With a numerical advantage, and plenty of wind in their sails, Scotland began to turn the screw in the early stages of the second period. However, possession means nothing with no penetration and when the South Africans broke free once again, Hendrikse was on hand to waltz in for his second and his side’s third of the afternoon (22-12).
Scotland would again elevate themselves despite the ten-point deficit. With the pack driving to within metres of the South African whitewash, the ball was fed through the backline’s hands and centre Cameron Anderson was the man on hand to finish in the corner. With Thompson nailing the tricky conversion, there was just three points in it (22-19).
That was as close as the score would get however and South Africa soon showcased why they finished third in last year’s Championship.
Following JJ van der Mescht’s dive at the line, replacements Sanele Nohamba and Kudzwai Dube brought the energy with two quick fire, breakaway scores to add the finishing touches to a final ten-minute blitz (43-19).
Next up: Scotland face New Zealand at Rosario’s Racecourse Stadium in their second World Rugby U20 Championship pool stage fixture this Saturday (8 June, kick-off 7.30pm BST) – streamed live at world.rugby/u20