Junior Springbok coach, Chean Roux, was pleased with his team’s 55-14 victory against Georgia at Paul Roos Gymnasium on Friday, but said there was still a lot of work ahead as they prepare for the World Rugby U20 Championship in the south of France at the end of next month.
The Junior Springboks started the clash with a bang as they ran in three tries in the first 18 minutes and added another two before the break, while they limited Georgia to one for an encouraging 36-7 halftime lead.
The hosts added three more tries in the second half, which saw winger Sihle Njezula and centre Rikus Pretorius touch down twice in the match.
“The scoreboard was pleasing, but there is still a lot of work to do,” said Roux.
“In saying that, it was our first outing as a team playing a full game, and I am pleased that there were no serious injuries.
“I think we did well in the lineouts and we started with the tempo we wanted, but we will continue to work hard in the next couple of days.”
Flanker Muller Uys struck first in the ninth minute from a pick-and-go, and Njezula touched down two minutes later after an innovative cross kick.
Flyhalf Lubabalo Dobela extended the lead to 17-0 in the 17th minute with a penalty goal, and the side continued to apply pressure, as Wandisile Simelane crossed the chalk after Njezula kicked the ball up field, to take their lead to 24-0.
Georgia hit back with a try by No 8 Arsena Machaladze after sustained forward pressure and flyhalf Tedo Abzhandadze’s conversion was successful.
The Junior Springboks responded well as lock and captain Salmaan Moerat and centre Rikus Pretorius scored back-to-back tries in the last eight minutes of the half. This attacking effort was backed up with a solid defensive effort to shut out Georgia in the closing minutes for a 36-7 lead.
The visitors fought back with intent after the break as they retained possession and applied pressure for several minutes, and this paid off with their second try compliments of fullback Beka Mamukashvili, which they converted to take their score into double figures.
The SAU20s, however, took control of proceedings as the match progressed and this paid off as JC Pretorius scored, followed by Njezula, while Rikus Pretorius closed things out in the last minute after Georgia received a yellow card, to take the team’s try tally to eight for the 55-14 victory.
The Junior Springboks will meet World Rugby U20 Championship pool opponents, Georgia, again on Friday, 20 April, at the Danie Craven Stadium in Stellenbosch.
They will continue their preparations in the UK where they will face Scotland, Wales and England.
The World Rugby U20 Championship will run from 30 May to 17 June, with SA taking on Georgia, Ireland and France in the pool stages.
Junior Springboks 55 (36): Tries: Muller Uys, Sihle Njezula (2), Wandisile Simelane, Salmaan Moerat, Rikus Pretorius (2), JC Pretorius. Conversions: Lubabalo Dobela (4), Abner van Reenen (2). Penalty Goals: Lubabalo Dobela.
Georgia 14 (7): Tries: Arsena Machaladze, Beka Mamukashvili. Conversions: Tedo Abzhandadze (2).