Baby Boks all primed for a home title

2012-06-16 19:17

If junior side beats Argentina tomorrow they will face New Zealand or Wales in final

South African rugby teams seldom disappoint at international tournaments, especially at home.

After powering to a 28-15 win over England on Tuesday, they qualified for the IRB Junior World Championships semifinal, which will be played tomorrow in Cape Town.

It was a desperate but exhilarating performance from Dawie Theron’s charges, who were facing possible elimination after losing their opening game to Ireland.

While they handled the white-hot pressure of qualifying for a home play-off with aplomb, they have not been convincing.

They will be facing an Argentine side brimming with confidence after dispatching France, Australia and Scotland to top their group.

The other semifinal sees New Zealand pitted against Wales.

The Welsh inflicted the Baby Blacks’ first defeat in the championships with a final score in Stellenbosch of 9-6 last Friday.

The introduction of Handré Pollard to the BabyBoks’ side proved a masterstroke as the Paarl Gimnasium pivot preferred to run the ball, unleashing his quicksilver outside backs.

The centre pairing of William Small-Smith and Jan Serfontein also gave them an extra attacking dimension.

The real headache now lies with the forwards, with the Bok scrum taking a proper beating at the hands of the English.

This is a facet for which Argentina, both at junior and senior level, are renowned.

While the BabyBoks may have dodged the bullet on Tuesday, creaky scrums, inaccurate lineouts and sloppy breakdown work are always exposed in knockout matches.

Argentina may not possess South Africa’s attacking talent, but they have shown their ability to close out tight games and snaffle scoring chances.

The wet and muddy conditions at the Danie Craven Stadium nullified the Baby Blacks’ running game against the physical Welsh forwards, who were in their element.

Both teams have well-organised forwards, but drier conditions could open up the game for New Zealand in the semifinal.

The Welsh can match New Zealand out wide, but Welsh teams have faltered in pressure-cooker knockout matches before.

Do they have the belief to inflict a second defeat on the Boys in Black and avenge the 31-6 defeat of 2008 when Wales were the hosts?

They are primed for it, but New Zealand are defending champions and cannot be taken lightly.

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