Junior Springbok coach Chean Roux was pleased with the outcomes achieved as the SA Under-19 team wrapped up their two-match tour to Georgia with a 40-33 victory against the hosts at the Shevardeni Rugby Stadium in Tbilisi on Thursday.
The team won their first match 28-21 at the same venue, and they were once again tested to the limit by a determined Georgian outfit.
The SA U19s dominated the first half and their efforts paid off as they outscored the hosts four tries to one – which featured a brace by Muzi Manyike (fullback) – for an encouraging 26-12 halftime lead.
They added two tries in the second half, taking their tally in the match to six, but they conceded three after the break, which saw Georgia suffer a narrow seven-point defeat.
“It was a successful tour and we got to see exactly what we wanted to against quality opposition,” said Roux.
“I thought we started this match better than the first one, and we were unlucky not to have scored two or three more tries in the first half.
“We also made several changes throughout the match to give everyone a chance to play, and that disrupted the momentum a little. But that was the reason for the tour – to give everyone an opportunity and to see what they are capable of in tough circumstances.”
Roux added that although they won both matches, he attached no significance to the scoreboard: “We are currently in our off-season, while they are in the middle of their season, so in terms of our conditioning we are not where we should be, but that is understandable.
“In terms of the scoreboard, it is not something we look at. The fact that they got a red card and we allowed them to play on with 15 players to test ourselves certainly had in influence in the result, but the main purpose of this tour was to assess the players, and we are pleased that we achieved that,” he said.
The SA U19s got the match off to a strong start with Manyike scoring back-to-back tries within 10 minutes – the first from a sharp pass out wide and the second from some good running and foot work to force his way over the chalk.
They added their third try soon after compliments of Morne Brandon (flanker), who received a well-timed pass from the base of the ruck at pace, which extended their lead to 19-0.
The SA 19s lost Werner Gouws (No 8) for 10 minutes in the 24th minute after he received a yellow card for a dangerous challenge in a tackle, and the hosts capitalised on that with Levan Kushashvili (winger) touching down in the corner to earn their first points of the match.
This was cancelled out by SA U19 hooker Jason Alexander minutes later as he earned the team’s fourth try.
Georgia were dealt a big blow soon after as Tornike Zakariadze (flanker) was shown red-card for a dangerous charge into a ruck, but bounced back to score a confidence-boosting try on the stroke of halftime compliments of Luka Khekhelashvili (winger), who gathered a fantastic cross kick to enter the break 26-12 down.
The hosts received a yellow card early in second half as Luka Ivanishvili (lock) was sent to the sin bin, and the SA U19s took advantage of this with Stravino Jacobs (winger) scoring their fifth try from a great run at pace to break through a tackle, stretching their lead to 21 points.
They inflicted further damage minutes later with replacement scrumhalf Jaden Hendrikse touching down after receiving a smart pass with no defenders in sight, and his conversion inflated their score to 40 points.
Georgia struck back with a try of their own by Ioane Iashaghashvili (lock) thanks to some strong forward play and good patience on attack, and the conversion was successful, which saw them take their score to 19 points.
The SA U19s lost their second player, Hanro Jacobs (prop), to a yellow card soon after, and Georgia took advantage of this with Giorgi Margalitadze (scrumhalf) ripping the ball close to the tryline from a crucial error by the visitors, for their fourth try.
The home side continued fighting until the final whistle, and this determination paid off with another try on the stroke of fulltime from another accurate cross-kick, which Temur Kokhodze (winger), snapped out of the air, and the end result was a 40-33 victory for the SA U19s.
Georgia 33 (12) – Tries: Levan Kushashvili, Luka Khekhelashvili, Ioane Iashaghashvili, Giorgi Margalitadze, Temur Kokhodze. Conversions: Sandro Margiani, Lasha Lomidze (3).
SA U19 40 (26) – Tries: Muzi Manyike (2), Morne Brandon, Jason Alexander, Stravino Jacobs, Jaden Hendrikse. Conversions: Ethan Wentzel (3), Juan Mostert, Hendrikse.Distributed by APO Group on behalf of South African Rugby Union.