The first half was a tense affair as both teams threw everything at one another on attack, but a combination of the tenacious defence and the wet ball denied them from capitalising on a few try-scoring chances.

Australia came out firing in the opening minutes, applying solid pressure on the Junior Boks close to their tryline, but they were held out as the South Africans defended with determination. They also showed good enterprise on attack throughout the half – although handling errors denied them in the opening 30 minutes.

A red card for Junior Bok prop Mbasa Maqubela in the 20th minute for charging into a ruck dangerously didn’t assist their cause, and this paved the way for Australia to open the scoring in the 28th minute with a penalty goal.

Despite being a man down, the SA U20s forced their way close to the tryline and managed to crash over the chalk, but the ball was held up.

This didn’t stop them from scoring their first points of the match two minutes later from intense pressure by their forwards, and the rewards followed with captain JF van Heerden dotting down the ball for their first try. The conversion by Thurlon Williams pushed them 7-3 up.

This was short-lived though as Shane Wilcox scored for the opposition three minutes later from a maul, and this handed them a 10-7 lead. The Australians had an opportunity to add an extra three with a penalty goal on the stroke of halftime, but the attempt went wayward, which saw them enter the break with a narrow three-point lead.

With the 20-minute red card in play, the Junior Boks were restored to 15 men in the second half, and this injected a new energy into their attack, but again handling errors again cost both teams in the third quarter as they continued to try to make their presence felt on attack.

The Junior Springboks finally made a breakthrough in the 62nd minute as Litelihle Bester ran a great line on attack and gathered a pass from the base of the ruck and this pushed them into a 14-10 lead. But Australia responded almost immediately with Wilcox scoring his second five-pointer to regain the three-point lead.

The Aussie U20s struck again with eight minutes left on the clock as they were awarded a penalty try after Bathobele Hlekani infringed during a rolling maul close to the tryline, and in the process he received a yellow card, reducing the Junior Boks to 14 men once again, while Australia took a comfortable 24-14 lead.

This did not stop the South Africans from fighting until the end, with Bester gathering a great grubber kick to touch down for the second time. But unfortunately for Bafana Nhleko’s men the conversion attempt went wide, and despite their continued efforts to sneak through for the victory, they were forced to settle for the disappointing 24-19 defeat.


Junior Springboks 19 (7) – Tries: JF van Heerden, Litelihle Bester (2). Conversions: Thurlon Williams (2).

Australia 24 (10) - Tries: Shane Wilcox (2), Penalty Try. Conversions: Cullen Gray, Joey Fowler. Penalty goal: Gray.