Junior Boks finish warm-up games on high note

The Junior Springboks on Saturday finished their warm-up games for the World Rugby Under-20 Championship unbeaten after registering a morale-boosting 58-14 victory against SWD at the Bridgton Sports Grounds in Oudtshoorn.

Curwin Bosch
Curwin Bosch

The World Rugby U20 Championship will be hosted in Manchester, England, from 7 to 25 June, with the Junior Boks taking on Japan, Argentina and France in the pool stages.

The Junior Boks started the clash against SWD with a bang, with centre Franco van den Berg rounding off a fantastic try in the 8th minute from a turnover in which he bounced off a defender to dash to the tryline. Fullback Curwin Bosch converted the try to hand the team a 7-0 lead.

Bosch added a try three minutes later after finding space out wide and dashing around the defence to touch down in the corner to extend their lead to 14-0.

Speedy wing Mosolwa Mafuma added the Junior Boks’ third try in the 25th minute after flanker Zain Davids forced his way through a gap in the middle of the field, and the ball was sent out to Mafuma, who outsprinted the defence. The successful conversion stretched the score to 21-0.

SWD hit back in the 32nd minute with a try after finding a gap in the midfield.

But this was cancelled out minutes later as Junior Boks prop Kwenzo Blose scored the team’s fourth try after a series of phases, with Bosch adding his fourth conversion for a 28-7 lead.

SWD fought back with intent in the closing minutes of the half, but the Junior Boks absorbed the pressure well and managed to deny them from adding to their score.

The Junior Boks wasted no time inflating their score in the second half, as flyhalf Manie Libbok picked up a loose ball from an SWD knock-on and cruised to the tryline seven minutes after the whistle for a 35-7 lead.

SWD, however, tightened up their defence and put together more phases on attack, which proved to be effective at containing the Junior Boks.

The home team were rewarded for their attacking efforts in the 56th minute as they put their forwards to good use to score their second try, but the Junior Boks responded with three penalties by Bosch for a 44-14 lead.

The national side completed the match with two late tries by Bosch and replacement back Edwill van der Merwe, which Bosch converted to secure a 58-14 victory. Libbok broke through the midfield and passed out wide to Bosch for his try, while Van der Merwe picked up a grubber kick to score the final try.

Bosch’s two tries, three penalties and seven conversions earned him a personal points tally 33 points in the match.

Junior Springbok coach Dawie Theron was pleased with the performance and described it as a solid display. But he said there were still areas of their game they needed to improve before they depart for Manchester.

“I am pleased with the display,” said Theron. “Our set pieces were solid, we defended well and we backed ourselves on attack, which is what we have been working towards. We made a lot of handling errors in the match against Maties, and there was a clear improvement in that area of our game against SWD. We also used most of our chances to score when they presented themselves, which is very pleasing. But there are still a few small things we have to work on before our opening match against Japan.

“That said I am proud of the players. We won all three of our warm-up matches, so hopefully we will be able to build on this in England. Obviously we will face some of the best teams in the world over there, so we will have to step up or game by a few notches, but we certainly have a solid base to build from.”

The Junior Springboks will spend a week with the their families before assembling in Cape Town for the World Championship holding camp in Cape Town on Sunday 29 May.

The team will depart for Manchester on Thursday, 2 June.

SA Rugby

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