The SA U20s collected maximum points with a 36-10 win over Fiji in their first game of the IRB Junior World Champs in Japan.
The match was a heated encounter with three yellow cards dished out to the Fijians, while South Africa were made to see out more then half the match with 14 men after replacement Rynardt Elstadt was shown a red card in the 34th minute.
Fiji scored first through centre Noa Nakaitaci who slotted the conversion to put the islanders out to a 7-0 lead.
But South Africa hit back, first through a Sias Ebersohn penalty, and then through a try from powerful Blue Bulls loose forward Christiaan Stander. Ebersohn nailed another penalty and a drop goal to give the U20s a 14-10 half-time lead.
In the second stanza the 14-men Baby Boks cut loose as both Sias and Robert Ebersohn and Blue Bulls speedster Sampie Mastriet crossed the line for Eric Sauls’s side to seal a bonus-point win.
‘We expected this game to be a physical, tough encounter, but after this game, we’ll build some momentum and will get better,’ said Sauls after the match.
‘Any team, especially a young team, is shaky at the start of a tournament. They made errors, so at the half time I told the boys to relax, not to panic and take it step by step. That is why we had a different approach in the second half.’
The result will surely send a message to the rest of the competition, as South Africa scored 26 unanswered points in the second half with a man deficit.
‘Now, we’ll just take it step by step. We have to win all our games in this pool in order to go to the final,’ added Sauls.
Argentina 9 Ireland 16
Samoa 17 Scotland 14
France 43 Italy 13
Australia 86 Canada 0
England 43 Japan 0