Replacement hooker Tiaan Lange scored a hat-trick as the Junior Springboks reigned supreme in the Six Nations Summer Series final.
Cape Town – Replacement hooker Tiaan Lange scored a hat-trick as the Junior Springboks reigned supreme in the Six Nations Summer Series final, thrashing Wales 47-27 on Tuesday night.
South Africa beat England, Ireland and France in order to feature in the final against the Welsh, and they showed that they would have been serious contenders if there had to be a World Rugby Under-20 tournament this year – but that event has been cancelled for the last three years due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
FINAL SCORE #WalesU20s 27-47 SA
Despite scoring four second-half tries through Mason Grady, Joe Westwood, Ethan Fackrell and Dafydd Jenkins, with Joe Hawkins adding 2 cons, South Africa had done enough to claim the victory, congratulaions @JuniorBoks 🙌#U20SummerSeries pic.twitter.com/c4pB1076aP
— Welsh Rugby Union 🏉 (@WelshRugbyUnion) July 12, 2022
Lange came on for the injured Lukhanyo Vokozela in the 12th minute, and dotted down immediately from a driving maul as he broke away to set the tone for a powerful display by the South African forwards.
Coach Bafana Nhleko would have been delighted with the Junior Boks’ start at the Stadio Monigo in Treviso, the same venue where the Bulls lost the 2021 Rainbow Cup final to Benetton.
But this time around, there was no stage-fright from a South African team as No.8 Louw Nel – who came in for the injured loose-forward star Cameron Hanekom – scored in the seventh minute.
Welsh captain and centre Joe Hawkins pulled back three points with a penalty, but Lange began a period of dominance for the SA outfit as they netted three tries in 16 minutes.
Western Province youngster Vokozela was taken out in the air and went off with what looked like a shoulder injury, but Lange ensured that there was no reprieve for the Welsh with a busy display.
The Bulls hooker followed up his opener with another powerful surge in the 28th minute to put the Junior Boks 26-3 up, after centre Suleiman Hartzenberg scored an outstanding five-pointer himself with a wonderful running line off a Sacha Mngomezulu pass.
SA captain Mngomezulu commanded the game well as he received almost uninterrupted front-foot ball from his pack, who climbed into the Welsh forwards with relish.
Unfortunately, Mngomezulu sustained an arm injury before halftime and was replaced by Neil le Roux, who came on at scrumhalf for Nico Steyn, who shifted to flyhalf.
While the new-look halfback pairing found their feet, SA Under-20 conceded a yellow card for a dangerous ruck clean-out by Nel just before halftime.
The Welsh took full advantage of the extra player after the break, with giant centre Mason Grady – who stands at 1.96m and 110kg – running over pint-sized SA fullback Donovan Don to score and reduce the deficit to 26-8.
But the Junior Boks roared back to seal a convincing victory with tries by Lange – for his hat-trick – a second by Hartzenberg and the best effort on a hot night in northern Italy, from vice-captain Ethan James, who went on a dazzling side-stepping run to score.
The game was over as a contest at 47-8 with 18 minutes left, and Wales managed to grab three consolation tries to add some respectability to the scoreboard.
Now it’s over to the senior Springboks to do the job over Wales at Cape Town Stadium on Saturday …
Junior Springboks 47 – Tries: Louw Nel, Tiaan Lange (3), Suleiman Hartzenberg (2), Ethan James. Conversions: Sacha Mngomezulu (3), Duran Koevort (2), Donovan Don (1).
Wales 27 – Tries: Mason Grady, Joe Westwood, Ethan Fackrell, Dafydd Jenkins. Conversion: Joe Hawkins (2). Penalty: Hawkins (1).