With only days to go until South Africa coach Dawie Theron unveils his 28-man squad for the IRB Junior World Championship 2012, the Baby Boks wrapped up a 2-0 series win over their Argentina counterparts in Stellenbosch on Saturday.
The Baby Boks triumphed 13-5 at the Danie Craven Stadium – one of two venues for JWC 2012 from 4-22 June – in a much closer affair than the 51-19 victory a week earlier. The two sides had drawn 23-23 in midweek when South Africa fielded a largely Under 19 side.
South Africa Under 20s managed to pin the Pumitas in their own half in the opening quarter, but only had a single penalty – through fly half Tony Jantjies – to show for their efforts.
Argentina gradually came back into the match, although without threatening the Baby Boks’ line. They were made to pay, though, when turning over ball on their opponent’s 22-metre line, the Baby Boks working the ball wide for Sevens star Paul Jordaan to race nearly 50 metres to score the opening try.
Trailing 10-0 at the break, Argentina began the second half with a far greater sense of urgency and a strong surge by the forwards down the middle set the platform to launch raids deep into South African territory.
Juan Cruz Guillemaín looked set to round off one of Argentina’s sorties but the cover defence forced him out at the corner flag. The second row would ultimately breach the try-line after a drive from a lineout with 12 minutes to go.
Making good progress
The try conceded seemed to spark the South Africans back into life and they began running the ball whenever the opportunity presented itself. In the end, though, they only had another Jantjies penalty to show for their efforts.
“I am pleased with the performance today, especially our ability to keep our structure,” admitted coach Dawie Theron. “We focused on a lot of things in this match and although the score suggests a close affair, I must say that I am satisfied with the progress we made before the opening match and this final clash.”
Theron and the South African selectors will now reduce the enlarged training squad to the 28 players who will attempt to claim a first JWC title this summer, a squad which will be announced in Cape Town on Wednesday.
“A win is always a win, I’m happy with the result. They were a lot more physical than us and superior when one-on-one. We lost a bit of our structure during the game, but it was a great opportunity for us to test all of our players and let them go out there and prove themselves. These games were very important for us to know what we have to work on in this last month. Now the last step is naming our squad on Wednesday.”
South Africa, who finished fifth – their lowest placing in JWC history – in 2011, will face England, Ireland and Italy in Pool B. Argentina, who will face Australia, France and Scotland, return home with co-coach Bernardo Urdaneta pleased with the tour.
“We are very proud of the ways our boys played, we proved that we can be competitive at an international level and this gives us the confidence we need to prepare for June. This tour was a great learning experience even for us coaches. We had a chance to know how ready our players are for the JWC and what we have still have to work on.”