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Junior Boks defeat England in Six Nations U20s Summer Series

By Kim Ekin
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The Junior Springboks got their Six Nations Under-20 Summer Series off to a winning start with a 30-22 win over the England in their pool encounter in Verona, Italy on Friday night.

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The South Africans, who were playing against a strong wind in the first half, led England by five tries to three at the end of the game thanks in large part to the superiority of their pack.

South Africa U20s scored first through Suleiman Hartzenberg, who slid over in the corner following a spectacular cross kick from Mngomezulu, giving his side the early lead.

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A yellow card for openside winger Siya Ningza saw the men in green reduced to 14-men. England kicked to the corner and utilized the maul for lock Ewan Richards to score while playing with a strong breeze behind them.

Following a Junior Boks penalty kick, No. 8 Cameron Hanekom crossed the goal line from a scrum five metres out, only to have the try overturned by the TMO.

To end the first half exactly how they had started it, witgh Nico Steyn scoring South Africa’s second try after a blistering run from right wing Donovan Don,  South Africa took a 10-7 lead into halftime.

The Junior Boks continued to build on their momentum in the second half, through a Hanekom try that increased their advantage to 15-7. The Junior Boks then made it 22-10 after using their forwards to punch holes in the English defense, before Hartzenberg scored his second 5 pointer.

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England responded with a Emaka Ilione try that was successfully converted to cut the deficit to 22-17, before SA hit back with a penalty from Mngomezulu to make it to  25-17.

Reserve hooker Tiaan Lange scored the Baby Boks fifth try to put the score out of reach at 30-17, before a late England consolation closed the gap to 30-22.

Coach of the Junior Springboks, Bafana Nhleko said: “We are happy with the win because England are a quality side,” said Nhleko. “They are physical but we knew what would be coming, however, we pride ourselves on our physicality and our forwards laid the foundation for a good win.”

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The Junior Boks took a while to get into their stride. Captain Sacha Mngomezulu made an impression with his decision-making and distribution, but he struggled with the boot.

“You could see it was our first match because we looked rusty at times,” explained Nhleko. “However, we are happy with the victory, and we do realise there’s a lot of work to be done before we play the two teams who finished first and second in the U20 Six Nations this year.”

“Playing against the wind in the first half and going into the lead at the break with an advantage gave us a huge lift,” said Mngomezulu.

“We will enjoy the win, not get carried away and get straight into preparation for Ireland, who are the Six Nations’ top side.”

Scorers: Junior Boks 30 (10) – Tries: Suleiman Hartzenberg (2), Nico Steyn, Cameron Hanekom, Tiaan Lange. Conversion: Sacha Mngomezulu. Penalty goal: Mngomezulu.

England 22 (7) – Tries: Ewan Richards, Imeka Ilione, Conor Oresanya. Conversions: Fin Smith (2). Penalty goal: Smith.

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