CAPE TOWN - The Junior Springboks got their 2018 World Rugby Under-20 Championship campaign off to a winning start on Wednesday night, but they had to fight for 33-27 victory against a determined Georgia side.
The Junior Boks produced a first half they'd rather forget, but an improved second half outing secured the bonus-point win in France.
The South Africans opened the scoring in the first half, but the match would turn into an enthralling one as Georgia had a lot of the control in the first 40 and put the Junior Boks under pressure.
A number of errors by the South Africans also hindered a lot of their chances.
The Junior Boks mauled well, and also scored a try from it, but what they did in the phases right afterwards wasn't as impressive in the opening half.
When they did manage to hold onto the ball, they looked good. But Georgia showed better appreciation for the oval, and they reacted quickly to feed off their opposition's mistakes, scoring an intercept try right before half time to take the score to take a 12-17 lead.
Early in the second half, the Junior Boks got their chance to exploit misakes, and they did it properly. Flyhalf Damian Willemse spotted the space in behind Georgia and sent a good kick into that space.
Wing Tyrone Green chased it down and charged down a desperate exit kick just behind Georgia's try line, before taking control of the ball to score right under the posts (19-17).
The Junior Boks looked much better after the break, and they proved that again after some powerful work by the pack before scrumhalf Zak Burger sniped past the Georgians' pillar defence and added a dummy pass to great effect to run in another converted try (26-17).
A successful penalty kick by Georgia took the score to 26-20 in the third quarter.
Green continued his monster of a game when he did everything but score the try as he set No 8 Muller Uys up for his brace.
The right wing held onto the ball in a way that screamed power as he shrugged off defenders as he paced down touch, before being taken down just short of the try line and laying the foundation for Uys to go over (33-20).
After a relatively quiet period, the pressure fell on the Junior Boks again when replacement prop Asenathi Ntlabakanye was sin-binned for a late tackle, and Georgia made use of their extra man when they scored a try to narrow the gap on the scoreboard (33-27).
The Junior Boks next face Ireland on Sunday, June 3, before concluding their group-stage proceedings against France on Thursday, June 7.
Junior Springboks scorers: Tries: Wandisile Simelane, Muller Uys (2), Tyrone Green, Zak Burger. Conversions: Willemse (4).
Georgia scorers: Tries: Demur Tapladze, Lasha Lomidze, Luka Davalishvili. Conversions: Gela Aprasidze (3) Penalties: Aprasidze (2).