Junior Springbok coach, Chean Roux, said his team would take the lessons learned from their opening World Rugby U20 Championship 33-27 victory against Georgia at Stade Aimé Giral in Perpignan on Wednesday night.
“The result is basically all we got from this game,” said Roux.
“We didn’t play well on the day.
“In the first half we dropped balls and made unforced errors; it was as though there was nervousness in the squad.
“But I think we did well in the second half. There were two tries that were not awarded, which would have made a difference. But the guys did well to hang in until the end with only 14 players.
“It was a good learning curve.”
The first half was tight, as both sides scored twice, but two successful conversions and a penalty goal by Georgia to only one conversion by the SA U20’s nudged Georgia into a 17-12 halftime lead.
Three second-half tries by the Junior Springboks – one of which marked No 8 Muller Uys’ second of the match – however, to only one by Georgia, who also added a penalty goal, steered the Junior Springboks to victory.
Roux added: “One generally learns out of rugby if you lose, and this was very close to a defeat, so we will take a lot of lessons out of this.”
The Junior Boks struck first in the ninth minute compliments of a try by centre Wandisile Simelane, who received a well-timed pass from winger Sihle Njezula, to take a 5-0 lead, but this was cancelled out four minutes later as Georgian centre Lasha Lomidze gathered a grubber to touch down. The successful conversion by scrumhalf Gela Aprasidze and a subsequent penalty goal handed Georgia a 10-5 lead.
The South Africans hit back with a try by Uys from a rolling maul minutes into the second quarter, which flyhalf Damian Willemse converted, but an intercept try by Georgia’s Demur Tapladze with two minutes left in the half nudged them 17-12 ahead.
The Junior Springboks showed their intent early in the second half as a charge-down and superb gathering skills by winger Tyrone Green under pressure saw him score the team’s third try.
Scrumhalf Zak Burger added the team’s bonus-point try soon after as he gathered the ball from a ruck and snuck over the tryline, and it was a matter of minutes before Uys scored his try with a powerful burst over the chalk.
The team was dealt a blow with 11 minutes to go as prop Asenathi Ntlabakanye received a yellow card, and Georgia capitalised on this as Luka Dvalishvili scored their try third try to reduce the deficit on the scoreboard to 33-27.
The Junior Springboks, however, managed to hold onto their lead in the dying minutes to secure the victory.
Roux’s team will face Ireland in their second pool match on Sunday, 3 June, before meeting hosts, France, in their final pool match on Thursday, 7 June, at Stade d’Honneur du Parc des Sports et de l’Amitié in Narbonne.
Junior Springboks – Tries: Wandisile Simelane, Muller Uys (2), Tyrone Green, Zak Burger. Conversions: Damian Willemse (4).
Georgia – Tries: Lasha Lomidze, Demur Tapladze, Luka Dvalishvili. Conversions: Gela Aprasidze (3). Penalty Goals: Gela Aprasidze (2).