The SA U20s lost 36-7 against New Zealand in the Junior World Championship semi-final on Thursday.
The Baby Boks were positive of giving the Baby Blacks their first defeat in the competition’s three-year history, however, poor defence and handling and failure to turn their opportunities into points cost the South Africans a place in the final. New Zealand, on the other hand, were more clinical and scored from most of their opportunities created. The Kiwis were also the more physical team and dominated the scrum and breakdowns.
The SA U20s had the opportunity to build an early lead but fullback Patrick Lambie missed two penalties while flyhalf Elton Janjties’ drop goal attempt went wide. New Zealand then punished the Baby Boks as they surged into a 22-point lead thanks to tries by wing Julian Savea, lock Blade Thomson and No 8 Rory Grice. Flyhalf Tyler Bleyendaal added seven points through one penalty and two conversions.
Inside centre Branco du Preez opened the scoring for the Baby Boks as he crossed the chalk on the half-time mark. Lambie’s conversion saw the score read 22-7 at the break.
The Baby Boks improved on defence in the second stanza but their errors with ball in hand and the Baby Blacks’ reign at the tackle point denied them any momentum and the opportunity to get back into the game. Savea dotted down again to compete his brace while Bleyendaal kicked three penalties to secure New Zealand a comfortable win.
In other results, Australia defeated England 28-16 in the other semi-final to setup an all-Australasian final. Pivot Matt Toomua’s boot made the difference as he kicked 13 points through two conversions and three penalties.
The Baby Blacks will look to secure their hat-trick of championships and continue their winning streak while the Aussies will aim to win their first title this Monday. The SA U20s and England will meet in the 3rd/4th play-off on the same day.