STELLENBOSCH, SOUTH AFRICA - NOVEMBER 30, Dawie Theron during the South Africa under 20 training session and press conference at Coetzenburg F-field on November 30, 2011 in Stellenbosch, South Africa Photo by Carl Fourie / Gallo Images

Baby Boks coach Dawie Theron was left shell-shocked after the South Africans went down in a 23-19 defeat against Ireland in their opening match of the IRB Junior World Championship in Stellenbosch on Monday night.

“The emotion is still running high, so one is tempted to make excuses,” Theron said after the game.

“It was really small things that cost us. We scrummed well but now we need to go and see why we lost tonight.”

Theron admitted Ireland had put his players under pressure as they stormed to a 13-3 half-time lead.

“We were forced to take chances, something we didn't want to do,” he said.

“It was as if we were too careful in the end. We had a plan for this match but perhaps we did not execute it well.

“You’ve got to give credit to the Irish. They played better on the night and deserved the victory.

“We certainly tried our best, but it is hard when you make as many mistakes as we did.”

Baby Boks captain Wian Liebenberg said the match was a “frustrating” experience.

“We didn't want to play catch-up rugby but they played well by putting pressure on us,” Liebenberg said.

“They made us play in our half and that was not what we wanted to do.”

South Africa's single bonus point left them lying second from bottom in Pool B, with England taking top spot after thumping Italy 64-5 in Cape Town.

South Africa play their next game against bottom feeders Italy on Saturday, and Theron hoped they would learn some lessons from their early loss.

“We now need to go out and beat Italy well and then beat England in order to give ourselves a chance to maybe top the pool,” he said.

“Ironically this might prove to be a good result as we now know exactly what is needed.

“We've got to go back now and really work hard to get the honour back.” – Sapa