Wandisile Simelane. Picture: GALLO IMAGES
Wandisile Simelane. Picture: GALLO IMAGES

A second-half hat-trick by centre Wandisile Simelane sealed a scrappy 30-17 win for the Junior Springboks at the Under-20 World Championships over Ireland in Narbonne on Sunday.

Simelane, who switched to leftwing after half-time, showed superb game awareness on his way to tries that extracted SA from a tricky situation after Ireland led early in the second half.

The win moves SA to top of their pool with 10 points from two matches, with France to come at the same venue in a group decider on Thursday.

In all, the Junior Springboks scored five tries but appear to have lost flyhalf Damian Willemse to a serious knee injury. Fullback Gianni Lombard, who took over the kicking duties, only landed one of five shots at goal.

It was a second error-strewn performance from SA but the bench proved decisive with replacements giving the team impetus at the right time.

The Baby Boks led 12-0 in the first quarter, making the most of scraps of possession and territory they earned.

They trailed at half-time, but inspiration from Simelane, coupled with a pack that took control, led to eventual victory.

TimesLIVE

SA. Tries: Zak Burger, Muller du Plessis, Wandisile Simelane (3). Conversion: Damian Willemse. Penalty: Gianni Lombard.

Ireland. Tries: Caelen Doris, Michael Silvester. Conversion: Conor Dean. Penalty: Dean