Junior Boks clinch semi-final spotComment on this story
Johannesburg - The Junior Springboks defeated a spirited Samoa 21-8 in Pukekohe, New Zealand in the IRB Junior World Championship on Tuesday to book a slot in the semi-finals of the competition.
The South Africans finished unbeaten to top Pool C and would face hosts New Zealand under-20 in the knockout round.
The South Africans will meet their traditional rivals for the second time in three matches on June 15 at the QBE Stadium in Albany.
The New Zealanders outplayed Scotland 54-7 to take the fourth and last semi-final spot after finishing as the best placed second team.
England scrapped through 17-16 against Argentina, while Wales defeated France 13-3.
South Africa had plenty of possession and created several chances but handling errors and good defending by Samoa prevented the Junior Boks from a more convincing win.
Junior Springboks coach, Dawie Theron said it was not their most convincing performance.
“We must give Samoa credit for making it a huge contest. They battled all the way and made it difficult for us to build momentum,” Theron said.
“We spoilt three clear cut chances to score, but we would have learnt a lot from this win in very difficult conditions.
“If you look at the close score between England and Argentina then you can see that the weather definitely played a huge role in the performances of the teams today.”
On the prospect of playing NZ twice in two weeks, team captain Handre Pollard said they were prepared to face whichever opposition that was thrown their way.
“If you want to win the tournament then you must play and be able to win against any team,” Pollard said.
“Our first match against them is history and we will now have to prepare very thoroughly for the semi-finals.
“We weren't at our best tonight and the boys know that and we will have to lift our performance for the semis.”
The Junior Springboks had to come from behind to defeat Samoa, who led 8-7 at half-time thanks to a try by centre Nathaniel Apa and a penalty by flyhalf William Talataina Mu.
Number eight Aidon Davis scored for the Junior Boks after several missed opportunities.
South Africa were again strong in the set pieces and particularly in the scrums, where they pushed the Samoans often several meters towards their try line.
Centre Andre Esterhuizen and wing Sergeal Petersen each scored a try in the second half to secure the win for the 2012 JWC winners.
This was the first time the Junior Springboks and Samoa had met since the inaugural JWC tournament in 2008 when South Africa won the bruising encounter 16-11.
Other results: Ireland beat Fiji 38-0 to qualify for the semi-finals. Australia defeated Italy 29-3, Wales edged France 13-3 while England beat Argentina 17-16.
Semi-final draw for 15 June:
England vs Ireland
Junior Boks vs NZ under-20
Junior Springboks: Tries: Aidon Davis, Andre Esterhuizen, Sergeal Petersen; Conversions: Handre Pollard (3).
Samoa: Tries: Nathaniel Apa; Penalty: William Talataina Mu.