The SA Schools team continued their fine form at the SA Rugby Under-18 International Series on Tuesday, beating Argentina 48-14 in Paarl.
The South Africans scored seven tries at Paarl Gymnasium and dominated the match from the outset. Their forwards laid a solid platform and stood up well to the physical South Americans, but it was at the back where the locals had no peers.
Five of their tries were scored by the backs, with Henco van Wyk (centre) and Dylan Alexander (scrumhalf) both scoring well-deserved braces.
Van Wyk and Zeilinga Strydom (fullback) had their opponents in trouble every time they touched the ball.
It was Argentina though that started strongest and their nippy scrumhalf, Facundo Villabla, scored a try after a powerful drive by his pack. The South Africans struck back in quick succession to take the lead and momentum back.
First Dylan “Bobby” Alexander, from Paarl Gym, scored the opening try for his team following a strong run by Strydom and a delightful offload by Tarquinn Manual (winger).
Kian Meadon (flyhalf) failed to convert, but had a successful attempt shortly after when Van Wyk ran a great line to score under the posts.
Meadon was on song again when SA Schools hooker and captain, Jacques Goosen, bulldozed his way over the line after some impressive lead-up play by the pack. The flyhalf then added a penalty goal as the SA Schools team took control of the match.
The lead was extended even further when Alexander got his brace within the opening half hour. The scrumhalf was on hand to finish off a strong run by Strydom, who found Mntungwa Mapantsela (winger) in support. His inside pass was snapped by Alexander, who scored in the corner.
The second half saw more dominance from the home team, who had their pack in full control. It was their backs though who did the job by scoring the tries.
Van Wyk scored another gem that bettered his first half effort. He was given space from a quick ruck and gassed the Argentineans from 50 meters out. Meadon converted.
An intercept try by Gideon van Wyk piled on the misery even further. The replacement flanker, who was on the field for barely a minute, held on to a stray pass and raced away to give Meadon another easy effort.
There was more to come and Strydom was next to score, a try most deserved. The fullback created some tries to others, so his effort in the corner complimented a fine afternoon for the player.
Los Pumitas had their moments, but were guilty of poor handling. When they did manage to hold onto the ball, they proved dangerous, as shown by a late try from Ignacio Ruiz (flanker).
The commanding win of the SA Schools over Argentina was a performance to be proud of and good reward to the hard work put in by the squad, said SA Schools assistant coach, Cobus van Dyk afterwards.
“We are very happy with the effort from the boys,” said Van Dyk.
“They did what we asked them to do and stood up to the challenge. We played rugby in the right areas of the field and that delivered the result we wanted.
Van Dyk applauded the forward pack’s set phase play: “We did very well in the lineouts and our mauls were effective. We worked on that area since Friday, when we played Wales and it came good today. They provided the ideal platform to our backs.”
The backs scored five of the seven tries in the win and Van Dyk feels they exploited the space well.
“The Argentina side were very narrow on defence and we could exploit the space on the outside. Well done to our backline, who saw and execute the spaces out wide,” said Van Dyk.
SA Schools 48 (29) – Tries: Dylan Alexander (2), Henco van Wyk (2), Jacques Goosen, Gideon van Wyk, Zeilinga Strydom. Conversions: Kian Meadon (5). Penalty: Meadon
Argentina U18 14 (7) – Tries: Facundo Villabla, Ignacio Ruiz. Conversions: Ramiro Weisberg, Thomas Oria.