Select Edition

Northern Northern
Southern Southern
Global Global

An 86th-minute try clinches England U20s the win over South Africa

(Photo by Ashley Vlotman/Gallo Images via Getty Images)

England have qualified for their second successive World Rugby U20 Championship semi-final with a late, late 17-12 win over South Africa at wintery Athlone. The score was deadlocked at 12-all when an arm-wrestle contest entered its final play.


Repeated infringing from the Junior Boks, which included the yellow carding of Divan Fuller, meant the match continued level until its 86th minute.

It was then that sub James Isaacs was driven over off a lineout maul to grab the unconverted try that left Mark Mapletoft’s side finishing on top of Pool C and progressing to a semi-final next Sunday versus age-grade Six Nations rivals Ireland, the Pool B winners.

A draw would have sufficed to qualify England as pool winners but they will be delighted that they battled it out to nail their third victory of the pool.

It had been a terrible day of weather in the Cape Town region, the opening match at Athlone between Ireland and Australia getting cancelled while New Zealand versus Spain, the third match on the Stellenbosch programme, was abandoned at half-time.

22m Entries

Avg. Points Scored
Avg. Points Scored

However, the Athlone pitch became playable for its second match, a 29-11 bonus point win for France versus Wales that qualified the defending champions for the semi-finals as the best runner-up from the three pools. They now play New Zealand, whom they lost to 26-27 last Thursday in Stellenbosch.

South Africa took a seventh-minute lead versus England through a converted Zach Porthen try, but the English hit back to pull level with a 27th-minute Finn Carnduff try and it remained level through to the interval.


Joe Bailey got England ahead with an unconverted 45th-minute try following a huge effort from his fellow forwards, but South Africa were level at 12-all six minutes later with Likhona Finca scoring.

From here, the soft pitch and wet ball continued to influence the evenness of the exchanges and it boiled down to one well-executed English lineout play in the sixth minute of added time.

  • Click here to sign up to RugbyPass TV for free live coverage of matches from the 2024 World Rugby U20 Championship in countries that don’t have an exclusive local host broadcaster deal



Join free



Trending on RugbyPass


John 3 days ago

I think the referee was going to keep giving england penalties until they did score!

NeilB_Denver 3 days ago

The England U20s are continuing to grind out wins. Let’s hope the seniors take note!

Join free and tell us what you really think!

Sign up for free

Latest Features

Comments on RugbyPass

FEATURE French South America tour beset by off-field issues to mirror political tumult at home French South America tour beset by off-field issues to mirror political tumult at home