South Africa suffered a disappointing 23-19 defeat against Ireland in their opening match of the IRB Junior World Championship 2012 at the Danie Craven Stadium on Monday night.
The Irish had a commanding 13-3 lead at the break and as hard as the Junior Springboks tried to come back, they could not overcome a sterling Irish effort.
“You’ve got to give credit to the Irish, they played better on the night and deserved this victory,” Junior Springboks coach Dawie Theron said after the match.
“We certainly tried our best, but it is hard when you make as many mistakes as we did. We conceded two charged down tries and that made it very difficult for us to come back and get the win we have worked so hard for.”
Theron was still positive about the chances of his side to make the play-offs.
“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. Ironically this might prove to be a good result as we now know exactly what is needed.”
Theron was happy that his team came off the field without serious injury considering the fact that he had to replace three players shortly before the start of the tournament.
“We have worked hard and had a plan for this match, but perhaps we did not execute it well enough on the night. We wanted a territory based game, but it did not quite work out the way we hoped.”
• The first half started well for South Africa. They managed to recycle the ball through various phases and although the Irish held firm in defence, flyhalf Tony Jantjies could get his side in the lead with a well taken penalty after 10 minutes.
Ireland struck back, with flyhalf JJ Hanrahan kicking two penalties in short succession to put his side in the lead.
This was extended to a ten point margin when a Jantjies kick was charged down and flanker Jordan Coglan scored next to the poles and Hanrahan kicked the conversion.
South Africa fought back bravely from the 3-13 deficit at the break.
Lock Paul Willemse crashed over after 12 minutes of play in the second half to start the Junior Springboks’ fight back and Jantjies converted.
A dropped goal by Hanrahan extended the Irish lead, but two penalties from the accurate boot of Jantjies drew scores level with 16 minutes to play.
The Irish scored from a South African mistake soon after, as a kick was charged down at the base of the South African scrum and from the resulting scramble, flanker Conor Gilsenan got the ball over the line.
Hanrahan converted from a tight angle and with Ireland 23-16 up, South Africa faced a stiff task to secure the win.
Jantjies kicked another successful penalty as the hosts piled on the pressure, but the Irish held firm in the final minutes to secure the win.
South Africa 19 (3) – Try: Paul Willemse. Conversion: Tony Jantjies. Penalties: Jantjies (4).
Ireland 23 (13) – Tries: Jordon Coglan, Conor Gilsenan. Conversions: JJ Hanrahan (2). Penalties: Hanrahan (2). Drop goal: Hanrahan.