CAPE TOWN – Junior Springbok assistant coach Bafana Nhleko says they can’t afford to produce another patchy performance when they meet England in one of the World Rugby Under-20 Championship semi-finals tomorrow.
The Junior Boks won their first two pool games against Georgia and Ireland - both matches in which Chean Roux’s team had to fight back in the second half - but their luck ran out against France.
Against the hosts, the Junior Boks were completely outplayed in the first half, and although they came back from a 36-7 half time deficit, it wasn’t enough to save them from a 46-29 defeat.
“The first thing we need to get right is an 80-minute performance,” said Nhleko. “We have played well at times - in patches - but at the same time, we have not been able to string together the kind of performance that we are capable of.
“The round-robin stages are over now, and it is playoff time, so we only have 80 minutes.”
Nhleko also said that he’s expecting a challenging time against the England, who finished the pool stages as the top team after bonus-point victories in all of their matches.
And while Nhleko raised a number of issues in terms of performance that he feels they need to address, he wants more of the same in terms of fighting spirit.
“England are very well organised in terms of their attacking structure, and their set pieces are very good,” said Nhleko.
“So for us it will be a case of working very hard, pressurising their attack and keeping the ball so that we can apply pressure. If we can improve our defence and place them under pressure, we will be in a solid position because we have showed that we have the ability to score tries.
“The character and fight we have shown up to now is certainly something we can build on.
“But again, we want to start well. We have worked hard to rectify that aspect of our game, especially after the French match. So we will continue to put in the hard yards at training in the next two days, and then it is up to us to go out there and give everything on the field.”
Roux will announce his team to face England today.