Baby Boks lose in Junior World Championship final

2014-06-20 14:50

The Junior Springboks were beaten 21-20 by England in the final of the IRB Junior World Championship (JWC) at Eden Park in Auckland, New Zealand.

Trailing by a point at half-time, the South African under-20 side fought back well but fell short in the end as England won their second successive JWC title today after lifting the trophy in South Africa last year.

Junior Springboks coach Dawie Theron and captain Handré Pollard praised the team for their overall performance during the three-week event.

Theron said it was bitterly disappointing to lose by a single point in what was a very physical battle.

“Finals are determined by small margins and we had two or three moments in the match where I thought it could definitely go our way,” he said.

“However, it wasn’t to be and England deserve credit for their ability to keep their composure when we put a lot of pressure on them.

“It is bitterly disappointing to lose, even by a single point, but I am extremely proud of this team. We have spent a lot of time together, the guys worked their socks off for each other and they gave everything for their jersey.”

Pollard said there were a lot of positives they could take from the tournament.

“We fought hard, but we were not good enough tonight. We played well, but they disrupted us at the set-piece,” he said.

“I am still proud of the guys, though. We played for each other and for the jersey till the end. Congratulations to England.”

Both sides had a nervous start, but with the England line-out dominated by lock JD Schickerling in the first half, the Junior Boks applied the pressure.

This resulted in an opening penalty which Pollard goalled. England levelled the scores as South Africa fluffed the kickoff, but a try by centre Jesse Kriel soon restored the lead for South Africa.

Kriel ran on to a deft Pollard chip to score.

South Africa then started making unforced errors and England capitalised on that, kicking a penalty and scoring a try through wing Nathan Earle just before the break.

This gave them a slender half-time lead of 11-10.

The second half started well for England as flyhalf Billy Burns kicked another penalty to give England a 14-10 lead.

Pollard replied with a penalty, but a powerful maul by England secured a second try when Joel Conlon went over under a heap of bodies.

The successful conversion stretched their lead to 21-13.

A second try by Kriel, converted by Pollard, gave the Junior Boks all to play for in the last 10 minutes.

Pollard came close with a drop-goal attempt, but the team ran out of time and England kept their composure to remain the JWC champions.

Pollard was later announced as the IRB Junior Player of the Year.

He is the second South African to win the award. Centre Jan Serfontein was awarded the title when the Junior Springboks won the JWC title on home soil in 2012.

The 20-year-old Pollard edged out England wing Nathan Earle, Ireland centre Garry Ringrose and New Zealand wing Tevita Li after a comprehensive voting system.


England – Tries: Nathan Earle, Joel Conlon. Penalties: Billy Burns (2), Aaron Morris.

South Africa – Tries: Jesse Kriel (2). Conversion: Handré Pollard (2). Penalties: Pollard (2).

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