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South Africa U20 land game-winning penalty after siren to beat Argentina U20

By Ned Lester
urenzo Julius of South Africa celebrates scoring a try. Photo by Albert Perez/Getty Images

It was all on the line for the four heavyweights in the final round of action on the Sunshine Coast, and while South Africa were hunting for their first win of the competition, Argentina were in with a precarious chance of lifting the inaugural The Rugby Championship U20 trophy.

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The sun had finally appeared for round three and fans packed the banks for what would be a ferocious back-and-forth that was only decided in the dying moments.

South Africa came out of the blocks firing and it took just 45 seconds for star centre Julius “the Boogieman” Jurenzo to carve through four defenders and score the game’s opening try. Philip-Albert van Niekerk added the extras.

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Facundo Rodriguez had a chance to get his team on the board 12 minutes into the contest but his penalty went wide left. Rodriguez soon looked to get on the board again with a drop goal, but that attempt went wide right.

A break from Juan Penoucos sent Argentina away, and the skillset from the South Americans resulted in Franco Rossetto claiming his first try of the afternoon. It was the third time’s a charm for Rodriguez as he knocked over the conversion.

With the scores locked, a yellow card to South Africa’s Ezekiel Ngubane meant the team would be without their halfback for 10 minutes.

It took just one minute for the Argentines to punish their opponents, with Timoteo Silva making the break and Rossetto running onto the chip kick to claim his second try of the game.

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The half ended with the powerful Argentinan forward pack going to work again and getting over the chalk once more with their driving maul. It was the winger Rossetto who emerged with the ball, completing his first-half hat-trick. Facundo Rodriguez nailed his second conversion of the afternoon from the sideline. Halftime score: 21-7.

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South Africa were first to get on the board in the second half, with an opportunistic tap from No. 8 Tiaan Jacobs catching the Argentinian line off guard and allowing him to push through a gap to find the line.

The set piece was in immense tussle, with penalties going both ways and plenty of passion expressed with every whistle.

Phase play was no less physical, South Africa were able to get a roll on for periods but one dominant Argentine tackle would stop that momentum on a dime. Discipline would let Argentina down but their lineout performed excellently with their backs against the wall.

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The South African scrum started to really flex their muscles towards the hour mark, winning a penalty on Argentina’s put-in just 10 metres from the line. The play made up for a knock-on that ended a strong passage of attack.

Reserve prop Casper Badenhorst finished the effort, but van Niekerk’s missed conversion left Argentina with a two-point lead.

Soon after the try, South Africa caught Argentina upright in the carry and earned a penalty. This time though, Argentina won back possession with a scrum penalty. Reserve flyhalf Santino Di Lucca stepped up for the penalty kick but was unable to extend his team’s lead.

Gael Galvan then paid the price for Argentina’s repeated poor discipline, the prop was handed a yellow card and van Niekerk got his team in the lead by one point with the penalty kick.

A huge clearance and determined chase from South Africa put Argentina under even more pressure, and when they won yet another penalty, the team opted for a tap and go, which captain Zachary Porthen took and scored. The failed conversion kept the lead at six with 10 minutes remaining.

The drama was only just beginning though, as Argentina launched a desperate attack and who else but Franco Rossetto finished it in the corner; the winger’s fourth try of the game. The conversion from the sideline would be crucial and Di Lucca was up to the challenge, handing his team a 28-27 lead.

A South African scrum in Argentina’s 22 in the 79th minute set up a dramatic final stand, and while the South Africans were ultimately held up over the line, the play was called back for a penalty right in front of the posts and Philip-Albert van Niekerk stepped up for the game-winning kick. Fulltime score: 28-30.

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