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South Africa complete U20 International Series clean sweep, England eye Six Nations success
We recap the final round of the U20 International Series in South Africa and look ahead to an exciting penultimate Six Nations U20 match-day.
South Africa U20 head coach Bafana Nhleko praised the “amazing effort” of everyone involved after his side wrapped up the U20 International Series title with victory over Argentina.
Two tries from hooker Andre-Hugo Venter in the final 15 minutes put the seal on a 27-9 win for the Junior Boks at Newlands Stadium on Saturday.
Henco van Wyk and Bobby Alexander had crossed for the hosts in a frenetic first half, in which Argentine fly-half Ramiro Waisberg kept his side in touch with three penalties.
Words cannot thank you guys enough for what you have done for us. Thanks again for friendship, competition and sharing the love of rugby! #U20Series @The_Yusman @lospumitasarg @RugbyUruguay @GeorgianRugby pic.twitter.com/M8Jt0jeMK9— Junior Springboks (@JuniorBoks) July 5, 2021
Victory was South Africa’s fourth of the tournament, having warmed up for the showpiece match with a 29-10 defeat of Uruguay, a 33-26 thriller against Argentina and a 42-0 win over Georgia.
The U20 International Series was the first competition at U20 level for each of the four nations for two years due to COVID-19, and Nhleko was thankful that the tournament was able to go ahead.
“There is immense gratitude and relief in our squad for these matches having taken place and we can never thank Georgia, Uruguay and Argentina enough for travelling here in these tough times," he said.
“We were not sure whether the tournament was going to take place until quite recently so when it did, it pulled together an amazing effort from our squad, but also from all involved in arranging and executing this tour.”
Junior Boks captain George Cronje added: “We had our backs against the wall a couple of times, but we responded every time and refused to give up. That was a very rewarding feeling.”
In Saturday’s earlier match at Newlands, Georgia earned a modicum of revenge against Uruguay, beating Los Teritos 20-8 to end the tournament on a high.
Georgia had lost all three of their pool matches at Markötter Stadium in Stellenbosch, including a 20-15 defeat to the South Americans, but ran in three tries in Cape Town to earn their first win.
Six Nations U20 hots up
On Wednesday, England can take a large stride towards the Six Nations U20 2021 title when they play hosts Wales at Cardiff Arms Park.
England have won three out of three in Cardiff so far, beating France 38-22, Scotland 31-12 and Ireland 24-15. Victory against Wales, therefore, would put Alan Dickens’ side in the box-seat ahead of their final Championship encounter with Italy next Tuesday.
“We played three games and I've been extremely proud of the boys in all three,” Dickens said after the win against Ireland.
“I've learnt how tight they are. Some of these boys have played with each other since Under-16 and they grow close to each other and have bonds.
“If we put our game plan on the pitch the score will take care of itself.”
Wales have only got one victory to their name thus far — a 25-8 defeat of Italy — but have won two of the previous three meetings with England at this level.
Sam Costelow, who has featured in all three of Wales’ matches over the past fortnight, scored 18 points — including the match-winning drop-goal — last March as Wales beat England 23-22 at Kingsholm.
Ireland and France will each hope to maintain their Championship hopes on Wednesday when they line up against Italy and Scotland respectively.
A bonus-point victory against Italy in the day’s opening match would draw Ireland level with England on points, temporarily at least, while France would be a point further back if they beat Scotland.