The Baby Boks recorded a marvelous 22-16 win over New Zealand in IRB Junior World Championship final at Newlands last night. It’s the first time since the under-19 and under-21 competitions were merged that New Zealand have gone home empty handed.
Not so good was the Bok tactical kicking. Also not good was Paul Willemse deciding to pull an opponent’s hair. He duly received a red card for this and so did his victim who had retaliated by landing a punch. On the flipside the lineouts and rolling mauls were outstanding. The ref also has to complimented for his strict application of the collapsing of the maul law right from the word go. Apart from some bone-crunching tackles, other highlights of the game included a scrum near the SA try-line in which the Baby Bokke absolutely pulverized the Baby Blacks, Pieter-Steph du Toit’s great run, Handre Pollard’s drop goal and of course the two Bok tries. Vian van der Watt toed ahead and applied downward pressure to get the first and Jan Serfontein, the new Junior Rugby World Player of the Year showed a healthy combination of power and skill to force his way over for the decisive try. Pollard added all the other points via the boot. The standout performers on the night were Steven Kitshoff, Mark Pretorius, Ruan Botha, Paul Willemse up until his moment of ill-discipline, Wiaan Liebenberg, du Toit and Serfontein. Fabian Booysen showed much improvement while Maks van Dyk, Dillyn Leyds, van der Watt and Pollard all made good contributions along the way.
The New Zealanders try from quick throw-in and a counter-attack was also very good. Throughout the game the defending champions tried to play a high tempo expansive game but lacked the required accuracy on the night to pull it off.
During this JWC, the Baby Boks have undergone an incredible transformation from looking like an incompetent bunch of uncoached individuals against Ireland to playing like the best under-20 team in the world at times when it mattered most.
Congratulations to the team, coach Dawie Theron and his assistants.