Preview: JWC Final
Thu, 19 Jun 2014 09:26
It’s going to be a titanic battle on Friday
The Junior World Championship comes to a close with a mouth-watering Final between arguably the two best teams in the tournament.
South Africa's road to the Final has not been an easy one; they topped their group with a come-from-behind win against hosts, New Zealand, only for the Baby Blacks to sneak into the Final to play the Baby Boks again.
Dawie Theron's men over came the New Zealanders for a second time in a thrilling match that ended 32-25.
On the other hand, England have had a relatively sedate run into the final with the current holders waltzing through the group stages.
The came up against an Irish team in the semi final that were easily bowled over by 42 points to 15.
Theron has made only one change to his team to face England in the Final.
Dan Kriel will play on the right wing for the Baby Boks his inclusion is in place of Lloyd Greeff who drops out of the match-day squad.
The versatile Kriel, twin brother of outside centre Jesse Kriel, is preferred in the starting line-up because of his huge work rate on defence.
Amongst the replacements, big flanker Jean Luc du Preez was declared fit after completing his rehabilitation programme following a blow to the head against New Zealand in Albany during a pools match. He replaces Abongile Nonkontwana.
Junior Springbok skipper and pivot Handré Pollard is now playing in his third tournament so is under no illusion as to what will be key to more success at Eden Park.
“I think at the end of the day it is going to be the side that wants it the most that is going to win it,” admitted Pollard, who is the leading point scorer at both JWC 2014 and also in the competitions history.
“Set piece is the biggest thing going into the final. I know how 2012 was won, we had 17 lineouts and we won all 17 of them.
"It is something you can’t go without in a final, the set piece.
"It is also the conversion rate you have, you have got to get down there and get points, whether it is three, five or seven – just get points whenever you go down to the opposition’s half.”
Junior Bok coach Dawie Theron said England will be a formidable opponent.
“They are a good side and have progressed to the final without losing a match. It’s going to be a titanic battle on Friday,” according to Theron.
For the English, coaches Nick Walshe, Ian Peel, Simon Hardy and Jon Callard have kept the same starting fifteen that defeated Ireland in the semi-final.
There’s one change on the bench which sees prop Biyi Alo come in for Harry Rudkin.
Lock Maro Itoje will captain the side, with tour captain Callum Braley on the bench.
England are competing in their third final in four years, and will be hoping to defend the title they secured in France last season, beating Wales 23-15.
Head Coach Walshe said: “This is a great opportunity for our guys – they have been excellent all trip and have fully deserved to get to where they are.
“South Africa will be a difficult challenge, but we’re focusing on ourselves – we’re putting a real emphasis on performing for the full 80 minutes, we feel that we have played well in patches throughout the tournament but we want to see a complete performance.”
2013: South Africa won 31-24
2012: South Africa won 28-15
2011: England won 26-20
2010: South Africa won 27-22
2009: England won 40-21
2008: England won 26-18
Prediction: This Baby Bok class of 2013 is an impressive mixture of energy, brilliance experience and skill. Captain Pollard is already earmarked for greatness both as a player and as a captain and with the quality around him one can expect him to run the show impeccably. However, in his path is the defending champions and despite their easy run into the Final, they are a team full of class. That being said, the heart and mental toughness of the South Africans should just be enough to see them home. South Africa by less than five.
England U20: 15 Aaron Morris, 14 Howard Packman, 13 Nick Tompkins, 12 Harry Sloan, 11 Nathan Earle, 10 Billy Burns, 9 Henry Taylor, 8 James Chisholm, 7 Gus Jones, 6 Ross Moriarty, 5 Charlie Ewels, 4 Maro Itoje (captain), 3 Paul Hill, 2 Tom Woolstencroft, 1 Danny Hobbs-Awoyemi.
Replacements: 16 Jack Walker, 17 Alex Lundberg, 18 Biyi Alo, 19 Hayden Thompson-Stringer, 20 Joel Conlon , 21 Callum Braley, 22 Sam Olver, 23 Henry Purdy.
South Africa U20: 15 Warrick Gelant, 14 Dan Kriel, 13 Jessie Kriel, 12 Andre Esterhuizen, 11 Sergeal Petersen, 10 Handré Pollard (captain), 9 JP Smith, 8 Aidon Davis, 7 Cyle Brink, 6 Jacques Vermeulen, 5 Nico Janse van Rensburg, 4 JD Schickerling, 3 Dayan van der Westhuizen, 2 Corniel Els, 1 Thomas du Toit.
Replacements: 16 Joseph Dweba, 17 Pierre Schoeman, 18 Wilco Louw, 19 Victor Sekekete, 20 Jean Luc du Preez, 21 Zee Mkhabela, 22 Jean Luc du Plessis, 23 Duhan van der Merwe.
Date: June 20
Venue: Eden Park, Auckland
Kick-off: 19.36 ( 07.35 GMT; 08.35 BST; 09.35 SA time)
Referee: Ben O'Keeffe (New Zealand)
Assistant referees: Matt O'Brien(Australia), Joaquin Montes (Uruguay)
TMO: Vinny Munro (New Zealand)
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