England beat South Africa to reach the World Rugby U20s Final!

 

For the fourth consecutive year England have reached the finals of the World Rugby U20s. They brushed South Africa aside as if it was their right to be there and the Semi -final was just a practice game for Saturdays Final.

England’s big players were involved from the start and an early turnover by Will Evans was shipped out quickly to Sam Aspland Robinson who put the lively Max Green through for a try after 2 minutes. Mallinder converted and it was 7-0 England. South Africa restarted with some pressure on England but Evans made the breakdown his once more and SA conceded a penalty. Mallinders boot ate up the metres and England were back into South African territory. The English line-out functioned well and provided nice ball for the backs who showed their intent to play.

World Rugby U20s England v South AfricaJohnny William’s kick through was made to look perfect by Marchant as he scooped it up off of his laces. He then shipped the ball wide via number 8 Callum Chick to Jack Singleton on the wing. A position commonly adopted by Hookers ever since they realised that it is nearer the half time refreshments. Singleton ignored the tempting side-line beverages and barrelled towards the try line but was held up just short. English support arrived and the ball was recycled for the big lock Huw Taylor to get on the scoreboard. Conversion missed 12-0 to England after 6 minutes.

Things settled down for a bit but only on the scoreboard. England’s line out continued to operate well and they continued to steal ball on the floor and spin it wide whilst the Baby Boks tried to throw the ball around and get back into the game. A South African penalty after 12 minutes gave them some points but England still seemed to be comfortable and it was only their own mistakes that gave the ball away.

After 14 minutes a solid Springbok scrum won the ball and scrum half Jansen van Vuren glided a lovely miss ball out to Libbok who chipped it through for the charging backs. Malins was aware and gathered the ball up only to be flipped upside down by a reckless Ward challenge. The South Africa Captain was shown the yellow and the penalty awarded to England.

England made the most of the extra man and another line-out, made to look simple, provided good phase ball. Marchant ran hard and fast as he always does and then some lovely hands from him to Malins and Nott broke the defence and the final pass to Aspland Robinson put him down the wing to score. There was little South Africa could do about that. Converted by Mallider and the score was 19-3.

Even when South Africa returned to 15 men England made the simple things look…simple. The experience from their Premiership players was obvious as they stood out in their physicality and skill.

Johnny Williams had been a battering ram at 12 all game and he scored from another strong English line-out and a Mallinder conversion followed. The game was in danger of running away from the Baby Boks. However what looked like a solid double tackle from Evans and Singleton on Sipato Pokomela was sent to the TMO. The decision was a yellow card to Evans for a dangerous tackle. Hmm?

The half ended with Mallinder showing his full range of skills from the boot. His delightful dink over seemed to be drawn to the hands of Marchant who was supported by Malins to score. England finished a fantastic half 31-3.

The second half opened with the “rosebuds” continuing to play well trying to spread the ball around after strong carries by the big boys up front. South Africa’s play was scrappy as they tried to create something to get them back into the game but points were gifted from an unexpected source. Marchant opted against another one of his destructive runs and tried a crossfield up and under. The dropping ball was plucked from the air beautifully by the South African wing Van Der Merwe and he left the surprised English defence behind to score on 48 minutes.

World Rugby U20s England v South AfricaSouth Africa had found their groove, passes started going to hand and they looked like the side we all expect them to be. Their most lively player, Curwin Bosch, scored after some great quick hands along the backline and his conversion added 2 further points. 31-17 and the Springboks looked like they were going to make a game of it.

England had been kicking penalties to touch all day long and setting up driving mauls. However they must have been cautious of the South African change in impetus as they opted for points from the next penalty. Mallinder added 3 points to try and calm things down. They also began the substitute merry go round bring on 4 subs after 52 minutes.

This seemed to work and the South African fightback was stemmed. Play got a bit messy as it often does just after the introduction of new blood to the field. However England’s strong bench, which has been a feature of this tournament, started to dominate once again. But they just couldn’t string phases together without an unforced error.

Both sides were rushing up hard in defence which was causing speculative passes and mistakes and play despite being fast was generally ineffective. Further substitutions broke up any flow and the previously busy scoreboard slowed down. Interestingly with around 5 minutes left South Africa had not made any changes to the front row.

England subs started to make an impact and Jack Willis stole a line-out and made a barrelling run up the field. The ball was recycled and the usual suspects Marchant and Mallins linked up to provide the fresh legs of Max Wright a chance to open and he dotted down with 5 minutes still to play, but that was game over.

NU-Gen Summary

39-17 and England made it look relatively easy. However that is the mark of a good team. This game was not easy but the training and preparation put in by the squad as a whole translated onto the pitch. The English players looked better. You could tell the players with Premiership experience and the English clubs have to be congratulated for providing this. They face a very strong looking Ireland side in the final. These teams have definitely been the standout sides and Ireland having beaten New Zealand already will not fear the poorly nicknamed “rosebuds”

NU-Gen MOM

Many contenders here. Mallinder again pulled all the strings, Marchant was lively in a strong back line. However we agree with the World Rugby MOM of George Nott. Big, powerful, skillful and already a leader at this young age.

England – 39

  • Mallinder – 9pts – c,c,c,p
  • Taylor – 5pts – t
  • Green – 5pts – t
  • Williams – 5pts – t
  • Aspland-Robinson – 5pts – t
  • Malins – 5pts – t
  • Wright – 5pts – t

South Africa – 17

  • Bosch – 12pts – t,p,c,c
  • Van Der Merwe – 5pts – t