South Africa ran in seven tries in their 51-19 win over Argentina at the Markotter Stadium in Stellenbosch on Saturday, after leading 15-12 at halftime. The Under-20 international was the first of three matches against the Pumitas.
The SA rightwing, JJ de Klerk, was a third minute casualty after he was felled by a dangerous tackle from Argentina lock Guillermann Cruz, who was sin-binned. De Klerk, who was stretchered off, was replaced by Abrie Griesel. He seemed okay afterwards but will undergo a scan later on.
After 19 minutes, the SA pressure took its toll as a backline move caught the Argentina defence napping out wide and outside centre Patrick Howard went over near the corner flag. Flyhalf Tony Jantjies converted splendidly from the touchline (7-0).
South Africa battled somewhat to cope with the strong forward surges from Argentina, and twice in a hectic 8-minute spell the visitors managed to snatch tries through Poet Sebastian (flyhalf) and Isa Facundo (No 8). In between the two Argentina touchdowns, Jantjies landed a penalty (12-10).
On the stroke of halftime, the SA U20 No 8 Fabian Booysen crashed over for an unconverted try, as the hosts regained the lead at 15-12. Gargia Botta, the Argentina loosehead, was yellow carded three minutes in second-half play, and a minute later Jantjies stretched the home side's lead to six points with his second penalty (18-12).
Fullback Marais Schmidt scored his side's third try, which went unconverted, in the 53rd minute (23-12) and four minutes later SA U20 inside centre Jan Serfontein scored another converted effort to stretch the home side’s lead to 30-12.
Cruz, who was sin binned earlier on, was red-carded on the hour, and SA wasted no wasted time exploiting their advantage with a try by Marzuq Maarman following a 25-metre rolling maul (37-12).
There was some fightback from the visitors when the Pumitas centre Brex Ignacio went over for a converted try in the 67th minute (37-19). Griesel rounded off the scoring in the match with two tries in the final three minutes and Jantjies was on target each time from the touchline with the difficult conversions (51-19).
After the match the SA Under-20 coach Dawie Theron was both disappointed and pleased with the match.
“It was a pity that the match wasn't always played in the right spirit because these matches could be of great help to the coaches, and that's why I was disappointed,” said Theron. "On the other hand we did play well in the first half because our line-outs in particular was not good at all.
“But it was good that we had that kind of first half because we knew what was required in the second half. We sorted out our line-out in the second half and also our first phase, which wasn't good at all in the first half, was better later on in the match. We also struggled to keep ball in hand in the first half.
“It was pleasing to see the improvements in the second half and the players will now have a fair idea of the level of play that will be expected,” said Theron.
The SA U20 coach said he will now focus his attention on giving the young players in his training squad some game time against the tourists on Tuesday.
“For Tuesday's match I'll be running with a few Under-19s and they too saw what's in store for them from the Argentinians. One thing’s sure is that they'll know it will be very physical, but I’m pleased to say we have loads of talent at Under-19 level,” added Theron.
The third and final match against the Pumitas will be played next Saturday at the Danie Craven Stadium.
South Africa Under-20: Tries: Patrick Howard, Fabian Booysen, Marais Schmidt, Jan Serfontein, Marzuq Maarman, Abrie Griesel (2). Conversions: Tony Jantjies (5). Penalties: Jantjies (2).
Argentina Under-20: Tries: Poet Sebastian, Isa Facundo, Brex Ignacio. Conversions: Sebastian (2).