Baby Boks to play Kiwis in JWC semi

The Baby Boks got past a feisty Samoa in dreadful conditions in Pukekohe to book a semi-final slot against hosts and arch-rivals the Baby Blacks, who snuck into the semis by the back door.

The Boks beat Samoa 21-8 to finish unbeaten and top of Pool C at the IRB Junior World Championship and now meet their traditional rivals for the second time in three matches on Sunday at the QBE Stadium in Albany.

The New Zealanders outplayed Scotland 54-7 to take the fourth and last semi-final spot as the best placed second team.

England scrapped through 17-16 against Argentina while Wales defeated France 13-3, a result which eliminated both teams from a semi-final spot, and ironically opened the door to NZ to snap up the last semifinal place.

South Africa had plenty of possession and created several chances but handling errors and also ferocious defence by Samoa prevented the Baby Boks from a more convincing win.

Dawie Theron, the Baby Springboks coach, said afterwards it was not their most convincing performance: “We must give Samoa credit for making it a huge contest. They battled all the way and made it difficult for us to build momentum.”

He added: “We spoilt three clear cut chances to score, but we would have learnt a lot from this win in very difficult conditions. If you look at the close score between England and Argentina then you can see that the weather definitely played a huge role in the performances of the teams today.”

On the prospect of playing NZ twice in two weeks, team captain Handré Pollard said: “If you want to win the tournament then you must play and be able to win against any team. Our first match against them is history and we will now have to prepare very thoroughly for the semi-finals. We weren’t at our best tonight and the boys know that and we will have to lift our performance for the semis,” said Pollard.

The Baby Springboks had to come from behind to defeat Samoa, who led 8-7 at halftime thanks to a try by centre Nathaniel Apa and a penalty by flyhalf William Talataina Mu. Number eight Aidon Davis scored for the Baby Boks after several missed opportunities.

South Africa were again strong in the set pieces and particularly in the scrums, where they pushed the physical Samoans often several meters towards their try line. Centre Andre Esterhuizen en wing Sergeal Petersen each scored a try in the second half to secure a hard craft win for the 2012 JWC winners.

Interestingly, this is was the first time the Baby Springboks and Samoa have met since the inaugural JWC tournament in 2008 when South Africa won a bruising encounter 16-11.

Points scorers:

Baby Boks: Tries: Aidon Davis, Andre Esterhuizen, Sergeal Petersen; Conversions: Handré Pollard (3).

Samoa: Tries: Nathaniel Apa; Penalty: William Talataina Mu.

Other results:

Ireland 38-0 Fiji

Australia 29-3 Italy

Wales 13-3 France

England 17-16 Argentina

Semi-final draw for Sunday 15 June:

07h00: England vs Ireland

09h35: SA vs NZ