Dawie Theron and his SA Under 20 side will need to outperform their senior counterparts when they face England at the Cape Town Stadium on Tuesday.
After an embarrassing opening defeat against Ireland, in which none of Theron’s big-names pitched for the game, the Baby Boks managed to get their campaign back on the rails (to an extent) in defeating Italy 52-3 on Friday night. With England beating Ireland and themselves having run up an even bigger score against the Italians in the opening round, though, they head the pool on 9 points and while the Boks still have their own destiny in their hands, they know that it will require a huge effort against the English in order to ensure qualification for the semi finals.
Second chances in this competition are few and far between, with only the winner of each pool progressing to the cup semifinals; with Ireland on 5 points and sure to pick up 5 more against Italy, the Boks will need at least 4 against the English, while somehow ensuring a better points difference to progress ahead of the Irish. This will imply, of course, keeping the English pointless, no small feat in itself. Should Theron’s men pick up a bonus-point win against England (and prevent their opponents from picking up a losing bonus point), then they will go through, but that’s looking like a tough ask indeed for a team yet to even find their straps, much less hit them.
Friday’s 8-try-to-none result was hardly as convincing as it sounds, with two tries in the final 3 minutes somewhat inflating the scoreline. Italy, as we know, are very weak in this competition and the reasonable, if not great, performance by a team that showed sweeping changes to the one that narrowly lost to Ireland will have left Theron with no idea at all as to which players his strongest team should comprise. Only inside centre Jan Serfontein can be considered a certainty, having shone brighter than any other against Italy, whilst lock Paul Willemse and number 8 Braam Steyn were also reasonably impressive.
Set pieces remain a concern, though, with the Boks at times looking uncertain in the scrums and, for the second match in a row, making a complete shambles of virtually every lineout, despite having a completely different hooker.
SOUTH AFRICA 52 (19) – Tries: Jan Serfontein (2), Paul Willemse, Braam Steyn, Steven Kitshoff, William Small-Smith, Vian van der Walt, Pat Howard. Conversions: Handrè Pollard (5). Tony Jantjies.
ITALY 3 (3) – Penalty: John Apperly.Tweet