Wasps pair feature in England U20 World Cup warm up
With just over two weeks to go before the start of the Junior World Cup in France, England Under-20s were given plenty to think about by a muscular South African side who were comfortable winners of a warm-up match at Worcester’s Sixways.
The foundations of a 26-12 win were laid by their massive pack which caused England problems for much of the game. The Wasps pair of Gaby Oghre and Tom Willis were among a number of forwards replaced at halftime, although Willis returned for the last 20 minutes, when he switched from No.8 to open-side.
South Africa took an early lead, with a try by David Kriel. After winning a lineout on the England 10-metre line, their powerful forwards put in a series of bursts which sucked in defenders and created the space for the winger to go over in the right corner. Gianni Lombard converted from the touchline.
Ben Loader’s strong chase of James Grayson’s restart immediately won the hosts a scrum near the line. After Willis was stopped just short, Grayson’s kick to the right corner bounced badly for Tom Seabrook, before Lombard was shown a yellow card for a breakdown offence on his own line.
But despite several minutes of pressure, England failed to breach the visitors’ defence and only in the final minute of Lombard’s absence did the home side take advantage of their numerical advantage with an outstanding try by Ben Loader.
After gathering a clearance inside his own half, London Irish full back Tom Parton exploited space on the left to feed his clubmate 30 metres out. The defence appeared to have the winger covered, but he showed tremendous strength to smash through a series of tackles and force his way over. Grayson’s conversion levelled the scores.
The visitors reclaimed the lead early in the second quarter when the controlled power of their forwards took them to the line before scrum half Rewan Kruger wriggled over by the posts. Lombard landed the simple conversion but was off target with a 30-metre penalty a minute before halftime which arrived with the Junior Springboks 14-7 ahead.
Although Lombard missed a second penalty chance early in the second half, South Africa extended their lead on 53 minutes with another try created by a forward drive from a lineout and finished by hooker Schalk Erasmus.
Willis returned to the fray on the hour and was immediately involved in the move which led to replacement hooker Henry Walker crashing over from short range. Sam Morley’s conversion attempt hit the post, leaving the hosts seven points adrift, with 15 minutes to play.
With both packs having undergone sweeping changes, England’s scrum began to get the better of their rivals.
However, the hosts’ comeback hopes were dashed five minutes from time when Junior Springbok centre Rikus Pretorius intercepted to run in from 40 metres for a score which Lombard converted.