U20 World Championship – Junior Boks Opening Win Built On Solid Forward Performance

 

The Junior Springboks started their 2024 World Rugby U20 Championship in commanding fashion at DHL Stadium in Cape Town on Saturday by beating Fiji 57-07 in their tournament opener. They led 31-0 at halftime.

The South Africans scored eight tries in a strong showing of their intent and bar some second half lapses in concentration and a yellow card to Jurenzo Julius, played with good commitment and purpose throughout.

They secured their four-try bonus-point in the first half and went on to score eight tries in total, while Fiji managed a solo try in the second half.

In his reaction, Junior Bok coach Bafana Nhleko said his team did well to secure a good win against a physical Fijian side, by doing the basics right.

“We took some time to get going in the opening minutes, did well to stick to our fundamentals and then get the job done,” said Nhleko.

“We will take the win, there's obviously work-ons, but we know it will get tougher with Argentina and England in our pool, who are two physical and well drilled teams on attack as well as at set piece.”

The Junior Boks’ win was built on a solid performance by their hardworking pack of forwards.

“We spoke in the week about our set piece, and how important it would be to be disciplined and stick to our structure, so I’m glad we could do that,” said Nhleko, who added they were also happy to give the wider match-day squad playing time.

The SA U20 mentor said: “It's going to be important to manage the load of the squad throughout the tournament, and we could do that today (Saturday), thanks to the good platform provided by the pack.”

The SA Under-20’s face Argentina on Thursday in their second pool game, and with that in mind the Junior Bok coach said it was important to keep an eye on player load management.

“We learnt some harsh lessons in the past, so we must get the balance right. We will keep the spine together as we look at managing the squad because the Argentinians are a tough, physical team.”

Replacement scrumhalf Ezekiel Ngobeni was stretched off after a tackle collision late in the second half.

“He was taken to hospital for a check-up, but he is okay, he is a warrior,” said the coach.

The team will do undergo a recovery session on Sunday and resume training on Monday. Thursday’s game against Argentina kicks off at 19h00 at the Danie Craven Stadium in Stellenbosch.