SA Under 20 coach Dawie Theron has shown us that while he may change his personnel on an alarmingly frequent basis, his approach to the game is something that does not change; this was frighteningly obvious as the fancied Baby Boks went down in the IRB Junior World Championship opener to Ireland in Stellenbosch last night.
The relatively untested SA Under 20 combination attempted to play a territory-based game against the Irish- who looked far more cohesive and frankly better-coached – but were let down by inaccuracy amongst the forwards and some shocking tactical kicking and first-time tackling from the backs. Despite a late fightback that saw monster lock Paul Willemse barge over for a try, the Irish beat South Africa 23-19, leaving the hosts reeling in terms of progressing to the competition’s semi-finals.
Stand-out performances on the night belonged solely to men in white jerseys, with the committed and cohesive forwards effort delivered by the young Irish making the Boks look like not much more than a ragtag bunch of individuals who have spent too long believing their own hype. Certainly, the likes of Steven Kitshoff and Pieter-Steph du Toit seemed to think that playing at this level would be easy after the rigours of Super Rugby – boy were they ever wrong as the Irish gleefully took the opportunity to tarnish a few big reputations.
The only player in green, in fact, who stood out on the night was former Glenwood flanker Shaun Adendorff. This youngster, alas now with the Bulls, played a storming innings in the number 6 jersey. It’s such a pity that none of his team-mates were even in the same library, much less on a similar page.
The Baby Boks face Italy on Friday and will need a huge win there, coupled with an empathic win against England a few days later to stand any chance of progressing in the competition that coach Theron assured us all they would win.
South Africa 19 (3) – Try: Paul Willemse. Conversion: Tony Jantjies. Penalties: Jantjies (4).
Ireland 23 (13) – Tries: Jordon Coglan, Conor Gilsenan. Conversions: JJ Hanrahan (2). Penalties: Hanrahan (2). Drop goal: Hanrahan.Tweet