Cape Town - The South African Under-20 rugby team thrashed Argentina 35-3 in their IRB Junior World Championship semifinal clash at Newlands on Sunday.

The Baby Boks ran in three first-half tries which helped to seal a commanding 22-0 half-time lead.

The home side's pack set the tone at the first scrum of the match when they had their opponents backpedalling.

Flyhalf Handre Pollard slotted over a seventh minute penalty after Argentina were penalised twice in quick succession in their 22-metre area (3-0).

Argentine flyhalf Sebastian Poet hashed two kickable penalty attempts from just outside the SA 22-metre area during the early exchanges.

Midway through the first half the Baby Boks' pressure started mounting steadily. In the 22nd minute the Argentina defence cracked when centre Jan Serfontein crashed over for flyhalf Handre Pollard to convert (10-0).

The Argentinians needed several minutes to shake off this setback and they bounced back with several forceful forward drives down the middle.

The Boks kept them in check with first-time tackles which prevented any advance into the SA 22m area.

As half-time neared, the Baby Boks managed to wrest the initiative with great authority to open up a commanding 22-0 scoreline.

First hooker Mark Pretorius crashed over, and later winger Raymond Rhule made good an overlap to round off a splendid two-try burst, and Pollard was on target with one conversion attempt (22-0).

After a promising start by Argentina their flurry was worth three points when flyhalf Sebastian Poet finally managed to get his side on the board with a penalty (22-3).

However, the Baby Boks were shading their opponents in all phases of the match, and most notably at the breakdown play.

With this kind of edge they were always poised to strike and they did so out wide where the pace of Rhule left the defence for dead. Hollard converted, and just on the hour he added a penalty for a 32-3 lead.

Tony Jantjies, the Baby Boks' first choice flyhalf at the start of the tournament, joined the fray as a substitute in the final 16

minutes and was on hand to slot over a penalty after a short while on the field (35-3).

By this time the Baby Boks' management made several changes to rest key players, ahead of next Friday's final against the four-time champions New Zealand.

Much of the play in the closing minutes were played between the two 10m lines as both teams battled to induce a measure of cohesion in their playing patterns as the Boks held out for a thrilling 35-3 victory. - Sapa