The SA Schools team opened their SA Rugby Under-18 International Series with a hard-fought 23-13 win over Wales thanks to a better attacking effort in the second half of their clash at Markotter Stadium at Paul Roos Gymnasium in Stellenbosch.
The SA team trailed 6-10 at the break, but five minutes of fumbling by the Welsh u/18 team at the start of the second half when South Africa scored two quick tries cost Wales their lead and ultimately saw them fall to a 23-13 defeat at the Paul Roos Gymnasium, Stellenbosch.
It was a case of what might have been for Wales as they stood up to the home side upfront and did all they could to move them around in the backs. Wales deserved credit, however, as they refused to stop chasing the game and were hard on the attack at the final whistle.
Wales head coach Chris Horsman was obviously disappointed with the defeat but still managed to find plenty of positives from the game.
“In a game in tricky conditions on a heavy pitch where two games had already been played on it, we tried to play a lot of rugby and we physically matched them. Our set-piece was excellent, I thought our line-out and scrum was dominant,” he said.
“We had six guys making their U18 international debuts in a side where the majority of the team are 17 year-olds so they will be back next year. The good thing for me was that every player came off the field actually starting to show and demonstrate their potential which is what the trip is all about.
“We’re obviously disappointed with the result, but in terms of performance, I thought the boys fronted up excellently – for a group of 16 and 17 year-olds I thought we were physically outstanding, as we played all the rugby in the game.
“On a big heavy pitch against a South Africa side who very direct and played a very strong pick and go game, a couple of loose balls bounced and they scored a couple of tries and we probably left about four or five out there.
“I spoke to the players at the end of the game and said sport can be a cruel game, you can give everything, perform at the height of your ability and still not get the result.”
SA Schools coach, Mzwakhe Nkosi, said the second half effort from his team showed their character.
“There is a lot to take out of this game,” he said. “We won the big moments and that was important. Our attack was not the greatest. They did beat us to the breakdown in the first half, but we had a look at that and improved so much in the second half.”
They now face Argentina: “It is going to be another tough match,” he said. “We need to take the lessons from this, improve on that and then take on Argentina with those boxes ticked,” he said.
SA Schools: Tries: Jurich Claasens, Jan-Hendrik Wessels, Jarrod Taylor. Conversion: Kian Meadon. Pensalties: Kian Meadon (2).
Wales: Try: Joe Hawkins. Conversion: Thomas Mathews. Penalties: Thomas Mathews (2).