Junior Boks coach Nhleko hails squad for reaching Six Nations playoffs
Coach feels his side made it hard for themselves against France at the start but were more composed in the second half
Junior Springbok coach Bafana Nhleko has hailed his charges after they swept aside France 42-27 in Verona, Italy, on Tuesday night to finish top in Pool A of the Under-20 Six Nations Summer Series.
The impressive win also saw the Junior Boks stay unbeaten in the tournament, having registered 15 points from three bonus-point wins.
Nhleko and his youngsters were awaiting the outcome of Wednesday’s Pool B decider between Italy and Wales to see who they will play in next week’s playoff for the overall Summer Series winner.
“I felt we made it hard for ourselves in the first half because we didn’t take our opportunities and didn’t manage the game on our terms. That took energy away from us,” Nhleko said.
“Once we stuck to our processes I thought the boys did well and there was character and composure in the second half.”
Nhleko said he will give players a few days to recover before they prepare for the playoff match.
“We need to grow in our game management. I would also like to thank our strength and conditioning and medical departments for their work because the conditions [heat and humidity] are tough, but our players were able to come through well.
“The bodies are sore after three weeks so we will give them two days off to recover and then we will regroup to make sure our detail is there and that we are up for the next physical challenge.”
The Junior Boks held a 17-12 halftime lead over France through two converted tries and a penalty goal. France replied with two tries and a conversion.
The scorching heat did not prevent the two sides turning on the style in the second half when SA increased their dominance by adding three more tries to cap a richly deserved victory over a strong France U-20.
Junior Bok skipper and flyhalf Sacha Mngomezulu had an outstanding game with his ball distribution and kicking boot.
He delivered a flawless kicking display by succeeding with four conversions and three penalty goals for a personal contribution of 17 points.
Hard-working No 7 Ruan Venter grabbed two tries, while inside-centre Suleiman Hartzenberg, left-wing Imad Khan and reserve hooker Lukhanyo Vokozela were the other try-scorers.
The only blemish in an excellent SA display was the yellow card for front-ranker Juann Else, while influential No 8 Cameron Hanekom had to leave the field early because of an injury. Louw Nel took over his duties at the back of the scrum.
The French played some enterprising rugby but were made to work hard to keep the South Africans at bay.