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Baby Boks inspire Matfield's men

Fri, 06 Jun 2014 14:36
Jean-luc-du-preez-injured
The guys really played their hearts out
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The South African Under-20 team's inspirational win over their New Zealand counterparts will serve as inspiration for the senior Springbok team.

Handré Pollard and his Baby Boks showed maturity beyond their years to score an impressive 33-24 win over the Baby Blacks in a crucial Round Two match at the Junior World Championship in Auckland on Friday.

And interim Bok captain Victor Matfield, speaking ahead of his team's season-opener against a World XV at Newlands on Saturday, said the senior men will take heart from what the juniors did.

"Based on that performance, they [SA U20] can go all the way," Matfield told a media gathering in Cape Town.

"What stands out for me was that the win was achieved in a New Zealand stronghold like Auckland.

"It was inspirational for us, because it shows that we can beat New Zealand on their own turf."

Matfield said the outcome was reward for national coach Heyneke Meyer and the SA Rugby Union, who had programmes in place to ensure the age-group teams played a similar style to the Springboks.

"Heyneke and everyone at SARU have been working hard to make sure we all play pretty much the same style," he said.

"The more our young players can win in New Zealand, the more it helps with growing self belief, and the confidence that we can win there.

"Hopefully we too can play like that over the next few weeks."

There was further good news for the Baby Boks, with initial reports suggesting that Jean Luc Du Preez suffered little more than a bad concussion in the match.

Du Preez was taken to hospital after being knock-out cold when he got his head on the wrong side of a tackle in the 26th minute.

While the SA U20 team management are still waiting for medical update, it appears there is not serious damage.

The Baby Boks skipper, Pollard, praised the calmness and discipline of his team.

New Zealand were 17-14 in front at the break, but the South Africans delivered a powerful display in the second half to eventually run out comfortable winners.

The victory ensured them of first spot in Pool C, after two wins from two starts, and they now need to secure a point against Samoa in their last group fixture to make sure of a place in the semifinals.

In fact the win may just result in the hosts, New Zealand, being knocked out before the play-offs - given that SA denied them a bonus point.

Baby Bok coach Dawie Theron was also full of praise for his team's effort.

"The guys really played their hearts out and put their bodies on the line for their teammates," Theron said.

"They came off the pitch with nothing left in the tank. It was a great contest and I am very proud of the boys."

He added the SA team will continue to work hard in training for their next match against Samoa.

"We will enjoy the moment but the guys know that we've not won anything yet," the coach said.

"It is a tough competition because of the format and there is still plenty of rugby to be played.

"I know what it feels like to lose in the pool stage at home, and New Zealand will be disappointed and hurting but they will be itching to bounce back in their next match," cautioned Theron.

Theron was also full of praise the leadership of his captain, Pollard.

"This is his third tournament and he has grown tremendously since playing for the team for the first time two years ago. He brings a good calmness to the team and the whole side is very composed."

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