The SA U20 training squad were beaten 26-17 by Maties on Wednesday as they continued their Junior World Championship preparation in Stellenbosch.
The Stellenbosch students scored four times, including a penalty try, and were successful with three conversions, while the SA U20 training squad scored three tries and slotted a conversion. Maties lead 12-7 at half-time.
The match was played in near perfect weather conditions and in front of a few hundred spectators.
Maties’ greater experience ultimately saw them safely home in an absorbing and entertaining tussle. They dominated the opening 20 minutes, but the SA U20 squad got better as the match progressed and produced their best spell of the match either side of half-time.
SA U20 coach, Dawie Theron, and his assistant coaches, Nazeem Adams and Brendan Venter, would have been pleased with their team’s defensive efforts just after half-time, when they prevented Maties from scoring at least three times after absorbing a lot of pressure from the students.
Theron lamented the fact that his charges created a lot of opportunities, but failed to convert their chances into points.
‘Maties started off very well and we were a bit shell shocked at the beginning, but the boys grew into the game and as a result created a lot of chances,’ said Theron. ‘Apart from scoring three times, I think we wasted at least seven more opportunities to score. But this strenuous workout against Maties was exactly what we needed.
‘A lot of our boys are still U18 and U19 and it was good for them to be exposed to that kind of pressure. Our aim was to keep to our structures and I think we contested much harder for the ball as the game progressed.
‘The boys learned today that they have to focus and play for the entire 80 minutes, something that we would need to do during the Junior World Championship in France. From that aspect, I would say it a very good exercise today.’
The squad’s third and last training match is on Saturday at 4pm against UCT at Brookside, the home of Villager Rugby Club in Claremont.
Maties – Tries: Neethling Gericke, Reniel Hugo, Johnny Kotze , penalty try. Conversions: Dean Grant, JH Potgieter.
SA U20 – Tries: Jacques du Plessis, Tim Swiel, JP Lewis. Conversion: Handré Pollard.