South Africa outmuscle England to secure third at World Rugby U20s
South Africa secured their ninth U20 Championship bronze medal by defeating England 22-15 in an intense encounter at Athlone Sports Stadium in Cape Town.
In the first half, all points were scored, with South Africa responding strongly after England took an early lead with a penalty from Connor Slevin.
Despite struggling in the scrums, South Africa’s forward pack excelled in other areas, particularly in counter-rucking and mauling, effectively challenging England. Flanker Hennie Sieberhagen scored the first try with a pick-and-go, followed by Corné Beets with a close-range effort after Damian Markus put England on the back foot with a powerful run. Jean Smith’s penalty increased South Africa’s lead to 17 points unanswered.
England responded with a remarkable try created by winger Cassius Cleaves, who made a brilliant break from his own 22-meter line and found Craig Wright, who for an unstoppable run to the try line. However, South Africa’s resolute defense prevented England from gaining momentum, and Juann Else scored for the Junior Springboks from an advancing maul.
Before halftime, England scored from a lineout drive, closing the gap to a one-score game with Slevin’s conversion. In the early second half, England dominated, but South Africa held strong. Afolabi Fasogbon’s excellent turnover within England’s 22 halted a sustained South African attack, and Alex Wills went close to scoring for England.
The game became a battle between the forwards in the middle of the field, with limited opportunities for both teams. South Africa had a chance to break the deadlock with a penalty attempt by Jean Smith in the 67th minute, but it went wide. England finished strongly but failed to convert breaks from Cunningham-South and Wills into points, as South Africa repeatedly capitalized on turnover ball, denying England any scoring chances.
Join free and tell us what you really think!Sign up for free