Victory no easy task

2014-06-20 00:00

CAPE TOWN — There is not much difference this year between the Junior Springboks and England’s U20 rugby team.

Both teams are unbeaten in the Junior World Tournament, both have very fast backlines, big forwards, and they like physical confrontation and do not shy away from contact.

What, however, could be to the advantage of the English in this morning’s final, or, on the other hand, favour the Junior Boks, is that compared to the South Africans, the young Roses enjoyed a much easier road to the final.

The South Africans were severely physically tested during their group matches against New Zealand and Samoa, and that repeated itself during the semi-finals when the Junior Boks again played the Baby Blacks. The question now is whether the Boks still have some oomph left in their arsenal to deny the Roses their second successive title.

Saracens technical director and former assistant Junior Boks coach Brendan Venter said it is important that both teams are well balanced. According to Venter, the team dominating the forward play will stand a good chance of winning the final. “One thing is certain and that is that England will definitely provide the Boks with stronger opposition in all the facets of forward play. They will not necessarily be better but it will make the match so much more difficult.

“England’s facets of forward play will be better than New Zealand’s. That has been New Zealand’s problem over the past three years. They have good players to get to the breakdowns but their forward facets of the game have been weak.”

It is also not only up front that South Africa will have to be on their guard against the defending champions.

England’s backline comprises a number of exciting youngsters who can change a game around.

Nathan Earle, one of the Roses’ wings, is the second highest try scorer of the tournament. Earle plays for Saracens in England and according to Venter, he could be the thorn in the flesh of the Junior Boks. Venter is also very familiar with centre Nick Tompkins and eighth man Maro Itoje.

According to him, the threesome have played a number of games for Saracens.

“Nathan is a very talented wing. Not only is he big, but he is also the quickest player at our club. He has lots of speed.

“Nick is not a big centre but he runs well with the ball and his defence is excellent. Maro, on the other hand, is a very good leader and physical player. He has lots of perseverance and has been earmarked to become a leader at Saracens.”

Junior Boks captain Handré Pollard and inside centre André Esterhuizen will be two of the key players, said Venter and added that the English will have a tough time to close all the gaps for these two.

It will also depend whether the team’s quick outside backline players, such as Sergeal Petersen, Warrick Gelant and Dan Kriel, will get their fair share of the ball.

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