The Junior Springboks opened their IRB Junior World Championship with an impressive 61-5 win over Scotland at the QBE Stadium, North Harbour in New Zealand on Monday. The South Africans scored nine tries, with good improvement in all phases of play as the match progressed. Scotland took an early lead with a break-away try after just ten minutes, but the Junior Springboks stayed calm and soon reaped rewards for their efforts as first Pierre Schoeman (prop) and then Sergeal Petersen (left wing) crossed the try-line.
Both tries came from a call by captain Handré Pollard, to execute attacking set-plays rather than kicking for poles. The skipper, who had a superb match, kicked both conversions to give his side a 14-5 lead at the break. Scotland did well to frustrate the South Africans at the breakdown in the opening stanza, which prevented the Junior Springboks from unleashing their powerful backs.
However, the South Africans got into their full stride after the break and combined their physical presence with skillful play to score seven more tries. The young South Africans enjoyed much better control of the forward exchanges after the break and this allowed their dangerous backs to strike with purpose. Pollard started the spark with a great chip and chase that resulted in big winger Greeff scoring. More probing play by the flyhalf saw Jesse Kriel (outside centre) crossing the line to score the bonus-point try.
Not to be outdone by the backs, the forwards played their part and kept to their plays and structure. Lively hooker Malcolm Marx scored after good interplay among the front row and Aidon Davis (no 8) also got on the score sheet, but not before fullback Gelant showed great pace down the blindside for his first JWC try. A bunch of replacements did not stop the Junior Boks’ momentum and both Kriel and Greeff scored their second tries of the evening to cap off a great performance by the team.
Afterwards, Pollard said he was pleased with the improvement they showed in the second half. “We were not clinical enough in that first half and also made too many errors. We came out better in the second half and once the forwards laid the platform for us, the backs could express themselves and managed to score some good tries,” Pollard said. Coach Dawie Theron said his team would have learnt a lot from the first 40 minutes’ of play in their first match, “Scotland made it very difficult for us right from the start, and we had to fight our way back. The second half was very pleasing, and I think here our experienced players such as Handré and Sergeal (Petersen) came through very strongly. Warrick Gelant (fullback) and Lloyd Greeff (right wing) also had showed what they are capable of on attack. This was a good start, but we will now work hard in training to prepare for our next match against New Zealand on Friday,” said Theron.