Planet Rugby

JWC: Title joy for Baby Boks

22nd June 2012 17:26

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Jan Serfontein with Junior Player of the Year trophy

Key score: Jan Serfontein

South Africa became IRB Junior World Championship winners on Friday as they ended New Zealand's four-year reign with a 22-16 win at Newlands.

Victory in front of over 33,000 supporters in Cape Town capped an impressive turnaround for the Baby Boks, who had lost their opening game.

For New Zealand the defeat was one they could have few arguments about as they failed to match the physicality at both the scrum and breakdown.

The weather held off despite the cloud coming and going above the ground to cap a tournament that has been marred by rain and muddy pitches.

But the call to move games from Danie Craven Stadium to the Stormers' home and Cape Town Stadium paid off, with a record crowd watching.

It was an even and cagey opening to the match and it wasn't until New Zealand full-back Martin McKenzie broke out from his own half that the game sparked into life. Nothing came of the attack though as Milford Keresoma fumbled, with the ensuing minutes seeing Handre Pollard and Isaia West kick goals.

South Africa were the side on top though as captain Wian Liebenberg went close to scoring on the left but was deemed to have been held up. Pollard grabbed the consolation from an earlier penalty offence as the Baby Boks edged into a three-point advantage on 20 minutes.

The contest then slipped into finals rugby as both looked for position before McKenzie carved something out of nothing, beating three players on halfway and then handing to hooker Nathan Harris who swiftly put Keresoma in the clear from 35 out. There was no catching the Aucklander. West landed the touchline conversion to propel the Baby Blacks into a 10-6 lead as the clock edged to within two minutes of the end of a good first-half.

Pollard did cut the gap to just a single point with a penalty from in front before the break.

New Zealand almost hit back shortly after the restart when a fumble in his own in-goal area from Tshotsho Mbovane caused the Baby Boks a lot of bother. However, the hosts survived and in fact were the ones who recorded five points when Fabian Booysen sniped over.

Pollard's missed subsequent extras meant four points was the home lead but when West cut the lead down to one - proceeding a red card apiece for Baby Bok Paul Willemse and Baby Black Ofa Tu'ungafasi for punches thrown - it looked like more scores were on the horizon due it being fourteen against fourteen players for the final quarter of the game.

18-year-old Pollard stepped up first with a sweetly struck drop-goal from 45 metres and when Jan Serfontein powered over on the right, making it 22-13, it seemed New Zealand were about to finally surrender their Junior World Championship crown after a long spell.

So it proved as West's penalty was the only score to make it 22-16, which was the ending.

In the other fixtures taking place on the final day, Fiji avoided finishing last by overcoming Italy 19-17, Scotland ended up in ninth spot thanks to their 62-28 hammering of Samoa, England sneaked past Australia 17-13 at the University of the Western Cape while Ireland and Wales defeated France and Argentina to finish in fifth and third place respectively.

Results:

11th Place Play-Off
Italy 17-19 Fiji

9th Place Play-Off
Scotland 62-28 Samoa

7th Place Play-Off
England 17-13 Australia

5th Place Play-Off
Ireland 18-7 France

3rd Place Play-Off
Argentina 17-25 Wales

Final
South Africa 22-16 New Zealand

By Adam Kyriacou at Newlands

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