Rikus Pretorius is confident his team can do the job in their semi-final. Photo: Chris Ricco/BackpagePix
Last year’s World Rugby Under-20 Championship semi-final will motivate the Junior Springboks to make use of every chance when they meet France tomorrow in a last four clash of this year's tournament in Argentina.

That 2018 match the Baby Boks lost by an agonising single point (21-20), ending their hopes of winning only their second tournament title.

And now the team have a chance to progress to the final of the 2019 edition and claim South Africa’s first trophy since 2012. A lot of the current players, of course, weren’t there personally when England celebrated after the one-point victory, but that score alone emphasises the importance of converting your chances. And they get the message.

Vice-captain Rikus Pretorius did play in the tournament in France last year, and said the current crop of players are completely switched on ahead of the challenge: "The guys are very excited. There has been a big emphasis on good recovery to ensure that we are ready for France, especially after having played three matches already, and everyone is really looking forward to the game.

“We may have progressed to the semi-final, but we still have to win two more games if we want to lift the trophy, so we are very focused on the task at hand.

“Last year we suffered a one-point defeat against England in the semi-final, and if we'd used one or two more opportunities in the game we would have made it through, so every point is going to be vital.

While Chean Roux’s unbeaten team started strongly early on in their final pool game against New Zealand, it wasn’t the case against Scotland and Georgia in their first two pool outings.

Discipline would also have been a talking point after they were shown five yellow cards in three games -three of which came against the Kiwis. But it’s converting every opportunity that’s going to be key.

“Every kick is going to be important and we have to use our chances on attack. We also have to make sure we get off to a good start, and we need to produce 80 minutes of good quality rugby,” said Pretorius.

“This is semi-finals rugby, so it's important that we are in the right frame of mind, and work on our details to get everything in place.

“As a team we are ready mentally and we all have the same objective, so hopefully we can play to our potential and deliver a high-quality performance,” he said.

The Junior Boks face France at 8.30pm (SA time), while Australia play hosts Argentina in the other semi-final.


Weekend Argus

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