The opening day of the SA Rugby Under-18 International Series delivered some cracking rugby at Markotter Stadium in Stellenbosch on Friday, with the SA Schools, Argentina and France scoring hard-fought wins over Wales, England and SA Schools A respectively.
The SA Schools team delivered a 23-13 over the Welsh (match report here), while Argentina outplayed England 29-19 in their first appearance of the Series, now in its tenth year.
In the opening match of the series, the French team had too much attacking prowess for the SA Schools A side, winning 43-19 (match report here).
SA Schools A coach, Phiwe Nomlomo said their slow start cost them. “We did not start well at all,” he said. “We possibly took too long to get into the game and that cost us in the end.”
The coach remained positive that they can turn their fortunes around for their next match against Wales on Tuesday.
“Some things worked well for us. We looked good with ball in hand, our loose forwards were especially monstrous with ball in hand. We will try and get them into the game a bit more next time around.”
He warned that the team will have to improve their defence as well: “For sure, defensively we will have to improve a bit, especially our one-on-one defense and if we do that, we will be a better team already.”
SA Schools coach, Mzwakhe Nkosi, said the second half effort from his team showed their character.
“There is a lot to take out of this game,” he said. “We won the big moments and that was important. Our attack was not the greatest. They did beat us to the breakdown in the first half, but we had a look at that and improved so much in the second half.”
They now face Argentina: “It is going to be another tough match,” he said. “We need to take the lessons from this, improve on that and then take on Argentina with those boxes ticked,” he said.
Summary of results and scorers:
SA Schools A 19 (14), France (31) 43
France – Tries: Leo Barre, Logan Tabet, Jessy Maizier, Ethan Randale, Eric Boussard, Killian Tixeront, Theo Ntamack-Mayenga. Conversions: Nolann Le Garrec (4).
SA Schools A – Tries: Indiphile Tyeda, Philip Masango, Teague Loelly. Conversions: Jordan Hendrikse (2).
Argentina 29 (17), England 19 (7)
Argentina – Tries: Bautista Grenon (lock), Facundo Villalba (scrumhalf), Bautista Bernasconi (hooker), Justo Piccardo (centre). Conversions: Julian Hernandez (flyhalf, 3). Penalty: Hernandez.
England – Tries: Louis-Hillman Cooper (centre), Matthew Ward (wing), Sam Bryan (replacement-flyhalf). Conversions: Orlando Baily (flyhalf, 2).
SA Schools 23 (6), Wales 13 (10)
SA Schools – Tries: Jurich Claasens, Jan-Hendrik Wessels, Jarrod Taylor. Conversion: Kian Meadon. Penalties: Meadon (2).
Wales – Try: Mason Grady. Conversion: Thomas Mathews. Penalties: Thomas Mathews (2)