A determined comeback in the period just before and after halftime was unfortunately not good enough for the SA Under-20 training squad who suffered a 42-27 defeat against Argentina Under-20 in their second tour match at the Club Taragui in Corrientes in the northeast of Argentina.
Los Pumitas raced into a 26-0 lead on Thursday night (SA time) after they dominated the first half hour of play, but South Africa fought back to cut the deficit to 26-12 at halftime thanks to tries by Irné Herbst (lock) and Jacques Rossouw (fullback).
South Africa continued their fight back after the break, which saw Sylvian Mahuza (replacement fullback) and Seabelo Senatla (left wing) crossing over for two more tries (26-24).
However, the Argentine youngsters then staged a comeback of their own after they were held scoreless for a while by the tourists.
Three penalties by ace kicker Patricio Fernandez and a very good converted try by Emiliano Boffelli (replacement fullback) allowed the hosts to finally wrestle themselves free from the SA grip to register a 42-26 win which was wildly celebrated by the players and spectators alike.
Los Pumitas pivot Fernandez capped a very good individual performance by scoring 27 points. He was deadly accurate with the boot and landed three conversions, six penalties and a drop goal.
Afterwards, SA Under-20 coach Dawie Theron said the team was disappointed they could not maintain the pressure on the home team.
“They had a good start and managed to keep possession and momentum for a long period in the first half,” said Theron.
“We fought back very well before and after halftime but they managed to regain the upper hand just before the end. The guys would have a learnt a lot from the experience and we are looking forward to what promises to be another tough challenge on Saturday.”
The visitors travelled to Buenos Aires on Thursday morning (Argentinean time), where they will play their final clash of their three match tour at the La Plata CR grounds.
Both teams are using the international series as preparation for the IRB Junior World Championship 2013 which will be held during June in France.
Last Saturday the South Africans opened their tour with a 26-3 victory over an Argentine XV in Corrientes after trailing 3-0 at halftime and in difficult, wet conditions.
Los Pumitas were one of the surprise packages of JWC 2012 with victories over France and Australia taking them to a first ever semi-final and ultimately fourth place finish after defeats by hosts South Africa and Wales. The Junior Springboks won the JWC title for the first time when they defeated four-time winners New Zealand before a packed DHL Newlands Stadium.
Argentina will face Wales, Scotland and Samoa in Pool D at JWC 2013 with only the winner guaranteed a place in the semi-finals. The defending champions, South Africa, face England, France and the USA in Pool A.
Argentina U20 42 (26) – Tries: Lucas Noguera, Paz Joacquin, Emiliano Bofelli. Conversions: Patricio Fernandez (3). Penalties: Fernandez (6). Drop goal: Fernandez.
SA U20 training group 26 (12) – Tries: Irné Herbst, Jacques Rossouw, Sylvian Mahuza, Seabelo Senatla. Conversions: Handré Pollard (2). Penalty: Pollard.