Rocky Start for Junior Springboks in World Rugby U20 Championship

Baby Boks
South Africa's winger Tyrone Green breaks away from Georgia's defence during the Under 20 Rugby union World Cup at the Aime Giral stadium in Perpignan on May 30, 2018. (Photo by Raymond ROIG / AFP) (Photo credit should read RAYMOND ROIG/AFP/Getty Images)

It was a rocky start for the Junior Springboks in the World Rugby U20 Championship as they took on Georgia in the opening match. Chean Roux said he had selected a squad to face up to the Georgian pack’s strength for their game in Peripignan, France on Wednesday night.

Junior Springboks missed chances

In excellent conditions, the Junior Springboks took on a side they had previously beaten in warm up games before this year’s World Rugby U20 Championship. It appeared though that the ‘sussing out’ of the opposition served the Georgians more than the young Springboks. Instead of sticking to their set-pieces, the South Africans attempted to run the ball too much. By taking too many chances at fifty-fifty passes, they came up short in the skills department way too frequently.

The Junior Lelos put pressure on the Springbok scrums early but it wasn’t much of a contest in the line-outs. Additionally, their defense wasn’t great. Regardless of that, they were determined and managed to put up a fight to finish in the lead at half time.

We’ve still got some time boys

When the second half started, it was reasonable to expect the Junior Boks to take back the initiative and close out the game, similarly to what they did in the previous warm-up matches. Some extraordinary individual play soon after the restart from winger Tyrone Green saw the Junior Springboks claw their way back into the lead. Still, some pressure on the scrum and mistakes at the breakdown gave possession back to the Junior Lelos.

The tactical kicking from Tedo Abzahndadze created chances for the Georgians while Damian Willemse wasn’t on form. By slowing the game down and using their line-out options, they finally got the front foot off their scrums and the Baby Boks managed to regain a decent lead. The powerful back-rower, Muller Uys, scored for a second time after a powerful charge. This gave a small points buffer for the South Africans.

Gallant effort but no result

After continued pressure from Georgia, the Junior Boks’ discipline started deteriorating and they lost a player to a yellow card for a late tackle. The Georgian side managed to build on their phases after that and got within a converted try of the big ‘W’. Damian Willemse improved his positional play in the second half, and the Junior Springboks closed out the game simply by controlling possession and territory.

The final score was 33-27, much closer than the warm-up matches against the Baby Boks and clearly a great improvement by the Georgians. Having only won two games in previous tournaments, maybe this will give them the confidence to take on the other opposing sides. The now have to face the French (on Saturday) and the Irish (next Thursday).

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