AROUSING second-half display by the Baby Boks in Cape Town last night secured their place in the semifinals of the Junior World Championships after it looked like their tournament was over at halftime.
The Baby Boks scored four tries in a thrilling second-half display to stun England and eliminate Ireland as Pool B winners.
They will now play Argentina in the semifinals.
Needing to win and score four tries was always going to be tough for South Africa, and it looked virtually impossible after 40 minutes against a superb defence that left the hosts scoreless at the interval.
But the home side emerged from the tunnel for the second half brimming with energy and by the hour mark they were only a try short of the priceless bonus point.
Captain William Small-Smith opened the Boks’ account with a scything angled run onto a Jan Serfontein pass to score under the poles.
The two centres have played together since their schooldays at Grey College in Bloemfontein and that try was the result of an acute understanding of each other’s play.
Six minutes later flank Shaun Adendorff piled over the line for try No2 to get the 15000-strong crowd on their feet. Suddenly something special was brewing.
England were wilting under the intense physicality of the Boks’ onslaught and when flank Pieter-Steph du Toit handed off a defender to score the third try on the hour mark the momentum was with the Boks.
Adendorff sealed victory and a place in the semifinals with his second try when he burst through a hole in the defence to start the party.
The second-half display was immense and the pack – with Du Toit, Adendorff and prop Steven Kitshoff in the vanguard – are well set to achieve their goal of winning the title for the first time.
Coach Dawie Theron will have some decisions to make about the make-up of his team as Du Toit only played flank because of an injury to captain Wian Liebenberg.
Du Toit’s performance was so complete that the captain might battle to win his place back.
In the first half the Baby Boks set pieces were again shambolic.
Tighthead Oliver Kebble was taught a lesson in scrumming technique by England loosehead Luke Cowan-Hickie while the Bok lineout misfired yet again.
The set piece let them down against Ireland and against a well-drilled and organised England team the set phases wilted under pressure.
Theron yanked Kebble off after 30 minutes, sending Nicolaas van Dyk into the fray.
The scrums improved but England were still rock solid and looked comfortable having repelled everything South Africa threw at them.
South Africa – Tries: William Small-Smith, Shaun Adendorff (2), Pieter-Steph du Toit. Conversions: Handre Pollard (4).
England – Penalties: Tommy Bell (5).