Down 0-3 at halftime in difficult and wet conditions, the South Africa U20 training squad delivered an inspired second half performance, which resulted in four tries, to win their opening tour match 26-3 against an Argentine U20 XV on Saturday evening (SA time) in Corrientes.
The South Africans, in Argentina as part of their preparations for the forthcoming Junior World Championship in France, initially struggled to master the wet conditions.
The squad lost their regular captain Marvin Orie (lock, broken leg) on the eve of their departure to South America and found the going tough in the first half when they also played against a strong wind. However, they did well to restrict their opponents to a slender 3-0 lead at the interval.
A tactical change in the second half yielded far better scoring opportunities for the visitors, who eventually scored four times through Ruan Steenkamp (2), squad newcomer Aidon Davis (no 8) and flyhalf Robert du Preez (no 10). Replacement fullback Jacques Rossouw also landed two penalties.
Afterwards SA U20 coach, Dawie Theron, was understandably happy with the successful turnaround in the second half.
“We maybe tried to do too much in the first half, and that, plus the rain and soft underfoot conditions made it difficult for our guys to get going. With the wind in our favour at the turn we played a more forward-orientated game, driving the ball up and taking it through a couple of phases before sending it out wide,” explained Theron who also said he was also pleased with their kicking after the break.
He added he was pleased with the squad’s mental toughness, which served them well after a long trip from South Africa.
“The trip was long and when we arrived here we could only managed to fit in one training session, plus the weather was not good at all. We also had a few different combinations and the lineout jumpers had to adjust their calls because of the absence of Marvin, who was really good at managing our calls.
“Overall, I am very pleased with the end result and I am sure the boys would have learnt a lot. I though Aidon Davis (EP Kings), who last year played for the SA Schools against England and France, did well in his first outing for us. Jannie Stander (MTN Golden Lions, lock) also performed admirably in place of Marvin,” added Theron.
The second tour match is on Tuesday at 23h00 SA time against Argentina U20 at the same venue, with the final series match taking place next Saturday in Buenos Aires.
Argentina U20 XV - Penalty: Augistin Carletto.
SA U20 Training Squad - Tries: Ruan Steenkamp (2), Aidon Davis, Robert du Preez. Penalties: Jacques Rossouw (2).