Poor execution costly for Junior Boks against Australia

Poor execution costly for Junior Boks against Australia

A disappointed Junior Springbok head coach Bafana Nhleko bemoaned his team’s error rate in their heart-breaking defeat against Australia in the U20 Rugby Championship. 

The match was yet again played at a wet Sunshine Coast Stadium, where the Junior Boks showed great fighting spirit until the final whistle despite a red card in the first half, and a yellow card towards the end of the encounter.

Australia led 10-7 at the break, but the Junior Boks took a 14-10 lead, only to see the hosts score shortly thereafter to retake the lead. Australia won by 24-19 but despite their numerical disadvantage, the South Africans stayed in the fight, with a combination of unforced errors and ill-discipline costly in the end.

"The disappointing thing is that we actually managed to build pressure at times, but then consistently released that pressure," said Nhleko. 

"As JF (van Heerden, captain) said, we played against ourselves but fair credit to Australia for capitalising on our errors and their set piece ascendancy.

"It was frustrating that we managed to get ourselves into the right areas of the field, but we let ourselves down with our execution. We don™t want it to be a recurring theme, so we need to get it right."

A red card for Junior Bok prop Mbasa Maqubela in the 20th minute for charging into a ruck didn™t assist their cause, while Bathobele Hlekani was yellow carded for infringing a rolling maul, which also resulted in a penalty try for the Aussies.

"Australia took their opportunities and deserved to win, but the cards had the effect that our pack played for approximately 30 minutes with seven players, which obviously hurt us by sapping our energy," said Nhleko.

"We will have a good review, and as much as we are disappointed with tonight™s outcome, I do believe the players have the skill and ability compared to what we saw today. We have to find the character to show it against Argentina. Today was a tough experience, but we will pick ourselves up and prepare for Argentina." 

The SA U20's next play Argentina in their final fixture on Sunday morning (SA time) before returning home the next day. New Zealand, who recorded a bonus-point victory over the Pumitas earlier on Tuesday to move to the top of the log, play Australia in the final match of the tournament.

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