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Springbok "possibles" show real promise

South Africa – fielding a team mainly made up of players who have had few playing opportunities on their current European tour – showed some stars of the future as they beat England U20s 38-5 at London Irish.

A cold and windy day in west London saw England’s U20s take on South Africa in a low key but entertaining game.

Despite that, for the South African team at least this was a great opportunity for players on the edge of the test team to make a case for selection – and they took that opportunity with open arms.

South Africa had a significant advantage up front from the start, and after seven minutes an English scrum thrown into reverse was the starting point for a first try from flay half Libbie van Rensburg, well converted by Jakkie Cilliers, who had a great game with the boot.

England’s Hesketh prevented a second Springbok try just minutes later as she tackled a flying Ayanda Malinga inches from the line, but it only delayed things. On 14 minutes a bullocking run by Chumisa Qawe set up fullback Donelle Snyders to score the second try – and another great kick from Cilliers. 14-0.

England started to get into the game more after this, their quick hands and intelligent lines allowing them to compete with their bigger opponents – but every breakdown was a challenge, every ruck tough to win (and often lost). Nonetheless England did threaten the Springbok line, but determined defence ensured the home team were kept out.

The third try was a second for Van Rensberg – breaking from inside her own 22 to race away and score. This time Cilliers was not able to convert but South Africa were 19-0 ahead which was the score at halftime.

England were more in the game at the start of the second half and held out for the first 20 minutes of the second half, even threatening the South African line at times, but the power of the visitors was still a threat and a turned over English ruck allowed the visitors to take on a disordered defence, the ball moved quickly wide to Malinga who this time won the footrace to the line. 24-0.

Seven minutes later Malinga scored again, finishing off great move that started within the Springboks own 22. 31-0.

It was not all one-way traffic, however, and England finally got on the scoreboard with eight minutes to go, sucking the South Africans into the centre of the line with a series of pick and goes before moving the ball quickly left where it found Lovibond with an overlap. 31-5.

But fittingly the last word went to the ‘Boks when quick thinking by replacement scrumhalf Nadine Roos spotted the tired England team turning off at a penalty, before taking a quick tap and scoring by the posts giving her team a 38-5 vistory.

England U20: 15. Kerhaw; 14 Ishida; 13. McGillvray; 12: Lovibond; 11. Hesketh. 10. Duffy, 9. Robinson; 1. Kil; 2. Waudby; 3. Clifford; 4. Campiom, 5. Antwiss; 6. Prothero; 7. Allen; 8. Nigelli

South Africa: 15. Donelle Snyders (WP; 2 caps 0 points); 14. Simamkele Namba (WP; 1 cap, 0 points); 13. Jakkie Cilliers (Leopards; 2 caps, 13 points); 12. Chumisa Qawe (WP; 6 caps, 5 points); 11. Ayanda Malinga (Blue Bulls Women; 4 caps, 15 points); 10. Libbie Janse van Rensburg (Blue Bulls Women; 4 caps, 10 points); 9. Rumandi Potgieter (Blue Bulls Women, uncapped); 8. Sizo Solontsi (Sharks; 8 caps, 10 points); 7. Catha Jacobs (captain – Blue Bulls Women; 4 caps, 0 points); 6. Ziyanda Ngohlekana (SWD Eagirls; 2 caps, 0 points); 5. Lerato Makua (Blue Bulls Women, 1 cap, 0 points); 4. Bernice Strydom (Boland Dames; 3 caps, 0 points); 3. Monica Mazibukwana (EP Queens, uncapped); 2. Micke Gunter (Sharks, 1 cap, 0 points); 1. Sanelisiwe Charlie (EP Queens, 2 caps, 0 points); Substitutes:; 16. Tanya Scholtz (Guernsey, uncapped); 17. Yonela Ngxingolo (Border Women; 12 caps, 5 points); 18. Amahle Nyoba (EP Queens; 1 cap; 0 points); 19. Rights Mkhari (Blue Bulls Women; 5 caps, 35 points); 20. Roseline Botes (WP, 2 caps; 0 points); 21. Unam Tose (Border Ladies; 5 caps, 0 points); 22. Nadine Roos (Boland Dames; 2 caps, 0 points); 23. Nomawethu Mabenge (EP Queens; 4 caps, 5 point