It was going to have to take something special to end the Baby Blacks stranglehold on the Junior Rugby World Championship, and there was something cliché about this win for the South Africa u 20’s. A quick, powerful and skilful baby blacks side facing a fast, brutally aggressive and organized Baby Boks side in front of 33,000 at Newlands Stadium in Cape Town—there would only be one winner surely?
It wouldn’t even need the cognoscenti to tell you that the circumstances were perfect for a South African win and that’s exactly what happened with the 22-16 score line perhaps not reflecting the South African dominance.
This was typical cup final rugby. Defences were organised and physical, it was cagey and the first half resembled two heavy weight boxers getting a feel for each by trading jabs. Three penalties from Stormers fly half Handre Pollard were matched and slightly bettered by converted Milford Keresoma try and an Ihaia West penalty to give the baby blacks a 10-9 lead going in at the break.
The second half was quite frankly one way traffic for a baby bok side in a controlled frenzy. The tackling was brutal. Inside centre Serpentine—later named IRB young player of the year—typified South African attitude with a number of telling tackles and surging runs. Yet he was far from alone, everyman wearing the green jersey seemed to flying around in desperation to make the next tackle, the next carry or hit the next ruck. Though, it was the driving maul that was the most effective aspect of South African play. It seemed as though every drive would result in a penalty for the Baby Boks, it was predictable but brutally effective.
South Africa did score two tries for themselves. Scrum half Vian van der watt scored an opportunist try when he pounced on a loose ball over the try line and the second try was quite simply brilliant. Sharp handling and off loading on the touchline left Serpentine with it all to do, but a powerful leg drive saw him carry three New Zealand defenders over the line to score and confirm his status as world player of the year with 20 minutes to go.
Like a true champion side the baby blacks kept themselves in touching distance despite clearly being second best. Two West penalties made it an anxious final ten minutes for a packed Newlands with a 22-16 score line. However, the Baby Blacks never looked like getting that final score, and the Boks held on for a memorable win.
Wales 25- 17 Argentina 3rd place play off
Ireland 18-7 France 5th place play off
England 17-13 Australia 7th place play off
Scotland 62- 28 Samoa 9th place play off