Junior Springbok coach Dawie Theron praised his team’s fighting spirit as they came back from trailing at half-time to comprehensively beat Japan by 59-19 in their opening match of the World Rugby Under-20 Championship in Manchester, England, on Tuesday.
Coming in for praise was the boot of former Grey High School player (now representing the Cheetahs), Curwin Bosch whose devastating accuracy with the boot accounted for eight conversions and a penalty goal. Captain Jeremy Ward, also a former Grey High School player capped the day off for Port Elizabeth with two tries. Between them the two Port Elizabeth players accounted for 33 of the 59 points scored.
It was a morale-boosting victory for the South African Under-20s, who found themselves 19-7 down after 31 minutes in the first half, but never backed off to finally outscore Japan by eight tries to three. The score at the break was 19-14.
“The first half was a bit of a shock for the guys and I think they didn’t really expect that, but I told this that this is a World Cup, you have to convert your opportunities into points,” said Theron.
“We probably were a little shell-shocked when they scored those three tries, but I am proud of the way the players fought back. Japan played well and they targeted the rucks, which they did not do last year.
“It was a tough lesson for us, but we adapted quickly. I think we regrouped very well as a team after a hard team talk at half-time and we stuck to our structures, which worked in the end.”
Powerful flank and Man of the Match Zain Davids (flank) and SA U20 captain Jeremy Ward (centre) both scored a brace of tries each, while fullback Curwin Bosch was flawless with the boot as he slotted all eight conversions and a long-range penalty goal for a personal tally of 19 points.
Such was the quality of the team’s second half performance, they denied Japan from adding to their score.
A series of handling errors and turnovers in the opening exchanges denied the Junior Springboks from taking advantage of their territorial advantage. However, they made a breakthrough in the ninth minute when Davids forced his way through a gap in the midfield and dashed to the tryline for the first points of the match. Bosch converted to hand the team a 7-0 lead.
Japan hit back with a try by wing Ataata Moeakiola who raced to the tryline after breaking through the defence, which they converted to level the scores. A few minutes later, following a great cross kick following a series of pick-and-goes, saw Moeakiola score his second try to see the Japanese take a 14-7 lead.
The Junior Boks were dealt a big blow soon after as wing S’busiso Nkosi received a yellow card for a dangerous tackle. Japan took full advantage of this, with Moeakiola earning his hat-trick in the 30th minute after dancing his way through the defence out wide to see his team take a 19-7 lead.
South Africa replied by applying pressure on attack, and there were soon equal numbers as Japanese flank Faulua Makisi received a yellow card. Junior Springbok centre JT Jackson had the last say in the half as he snapped up a chip kick from flyhalf Manie Libbok in the 36th minute to touch down for the team’s second try, which reduced the deficit to 19-14 shortly before the break.
The South Africans came out firing in the second half and applied pressure on Japan immediately, which allowed Ward to score their third try compliments of a fantastic break by Davids and a well-timed pass by Libbok. Bosch converted to hand the team a 21-19 lead.
Davids’ hard work paid off again in the 44th minute after a dummy pass and straightened, which saw him cruise to the tryline for his second try of the match.
Ward added his second try four minutes later after Libbok intercepted and ran up-field before passing out wide to take advantage of the space. Bosch converted for a 35-19 lead and then added along-range penalty from 51m out in the 55th minute to stretch the team’s lead.
Ward and his team continued to inflict damage as the match progressed, with Libbok sneaking through a hole in the defence in the 63rd minute to touch down for the team’s sixth try, while speedster Mosolwa Mafuma added another in the 70th minute to take their score to 52 points.
Japan showed their fighting spirit as the clock continued to wind down, but their efforts to score were negated by the determined Junior Springbok defence.
In stark contrast to their Japanese counterparts, the South African’s continued to use their try-scoring chances as they completed the match with a try by replacement prop Carlü Sadie, which Bosch converted to secure a morale-boosting 59-19 victory.
- Junior Springboks 59 (14) – Tries: Zain Davids (2), JT Jackson, Jeremy Ward (2), Manie Libbok, Mosolwa Mafuma, Carlü Sadie. Conversions: Curwin Bosch (8). Penalty goal: Bosch.
- Japan 19 (19) – Tries: Ataata Moeakiola (3). Conversions: Taisetsu Kanai (2).
About Jeremy Ward:
Born and bred in Port Elizabeth, Ward attended Grey High School, where he played rugby union and water polo. In 2012, he was included in the Eastern Province Under-16 squad that participated at the Grant Khomo Week tournament, where he played in all three of their matches, scoring two points via a conversion in their match against SWD.
He represented Eastern Province at the premier South African high schools competition, the Under-18 Craven Week, on two occasions – at the 2013 tournament in Polokwane and the 2014 tournament in Middelburg, helping Eastern Province to win the unofficial final of the 2014 tournament for the first time since 1977, beating SWD 25–7. Shortly after the 2014 Craven Week, Ward was also included in the Eastern Province U19 squad that participated in the 2014 Under-19 Provincial Championship, their first season in Group A of the competition following winning promotion in 2013. He started at outside centre in six of their twelve matches in the competition, scoring tries in their 17–13 win over Free State U19 and their 7–15 defeat to Sharks U19, eventually helping the team to finish in sixth position on the log, avoiding the relegation play-off.
2015: Eastern Province Under-19
He remained in the Eastern Province Under-19 side for the 2015 Under-19 Provincial Championship, also being named captain of the side. Ward featured in eleven of their twelve matches during the regular season. He scored tries in their 41–24 victory over Leopards U19, their 13–10 victory over Western Province U19 their 34–22 victory over Golden Lions and their 33–14 win over Leopards U19 as his side drastically improved on their 2014 form, winning eleven of their matches – including their first ten matches of the season – to top the log and to qualify for a home semi-final against Free State U19. Ward started in a 31–15 win to see his side qualify for the final before making a crucial contribution in the final, scoring two tries in their 25–23 victory over Blue Bulls U19 to win the Under-19 Provincial Championship for the first time in their history.
2016: Eastern Province Kings and South Africa Under-20
Serious financial problems at the Eastern Province Kings at the end of the 2015 season saw a number of first team regulars leave the union and Ward was among a number of youngsters that were promoted to the squad that competed in the 2016 Currie Cup qualification series, also being named captain of the team. He was named in the starting lineup for their first match of the season against the SWD Eagles, scoring the Kings’ second try in a 14–37 defeat.
In May 2016 Ward was selected for the Springboks Under-20 World Rugby team and named Captain of the side to contest the World rugby Under-20 Championships in Manchester, England, from 7 to 25 June. His provincial team mate, Junior Pokomela was named as Vice-Captain.
In March 2016, Ward was included in a training squad for the South Africa Under-20 squad prior to the 2016 World Rugby Under 20 Championship, and was also named in a reduced provisional squad a week later. On 10 May 2016, he was included in the final squad for the tournament, also being named captain of the side.
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Article source: http://mype.co.za/new/it-did-look-like-a-repeat/70505/2016/06