After being outplayed throughout, SA U18 sneaked an undeserved 23-17 win over England U18 in Port Elizabeth.
The young South Africans celebrated wildly when the final whistle went. It was no doubt sparked by the 45-13 drubbing the side took in the corresponding fixture last year, but it’s a sad day when the youngsters are that ecstatic with games they should be winning and they start judging themselves on English rugby – who hardly have an outstanding schools system.
The English, who were much bigger than their hosts, will be rueing not taking all their chances to seal the result, even though they scored three tries to one.
Baby Boks flyhalf Johan Goosen kicked 15 points via five penalties, including two long range efforts from the wrong side of the field late in the match.
The English led 17-9 with 25 minutes remaining, but centre Paul Jordaan’s brilliant individual try where he beat four defenders brought his side back into the fixture, although referee Pieter de Villiers missed a blatant forward pass in the build up.
The English had most of the possession, they dominated the scrums, and for large periods outplayed their hosts as they kept ball in hand. The English surprisingly had more flair than the South Africans, who opted to kick most of the ball they had, while the hosts missed numerous first-time tackles and their basics were lacking.
The South Africans must be commended for the fightback, but the win was down to individual brilliance and not a team effort. The performance wasn’t promising and was hardly indicative of a so-called ‘high performance’ squad.