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Los Pumitas too strong for Junior Springboks in Stellenbosch

By World Rugby , in Rugby | Featured Rugby | News , at 2024-07-05 Tags: ,

STELLENBOSCH, SOUTH AFRICA – JULY 04: Bruce Sherwood of South Africa U20 during the World Rugby U20 Championship 2024 match between South Africa and Argentina at Danie Craven Stadium on July 04, 2024 in Stellenbosch, South Africa. (Photo by Ashley Vlotman/Gallo Images)

The race to the World Rugby U20 Championship 2024 semi-finals took several twists and turns on Thursday as England, Ireland and New Zealand maintained their 100 per cent starts, Argentina and Italy secured famous victories and Wales recorded their first win of the tournament.

Argentina had only beaten South Africa once in 11 attempts at this level before kick-off. However, they ran their hosts incredibly close in Australia in May and started quickly in Thursday’s Stellenbosch downpour.

Los Pumitas, who lost to England on day one, certainly weren’t scared of their opponents and took the lead in the fourth minute when hooker Juan Greising Revol profited from a powerful lineout drive.

South Africa looked stunned and fell further behind in the eighth minute as number eight Juan Pedro Bernasconi powered over in the right corner.

Fly-half Santino Di Lucca missed the conversion to leave the score at 12-0 but Argentina weren’t done there and another rolling maul led to Revol going over again early in the second quarter.

Di Lucca again failed to add the extras and although the Junior Springboks grew into the contest as the half wore on, errors cost them as they struggled to deal both with the physicality of their opponents and the conditions.

It meant Argentina led 17-0 at halftime but having been 21-7 in front at the break at Sunshine Coast Stadium two months ago, only to lose 30-28, they knew they had work to do in the second half.

Crucially it was Los Pumitas who scored next, in the 48th minute, and again it came from a lineout, albeit in very different circumstances to Revol’s first-half tries.

Perhaps evidence of the pressure the Junior Springboks were under, Argentina captain Efrain Elias picked off a Luca Bakkes throw on the hosts’ 5m line and gleefully dove over to score.

Di Lucca added his second conversion of the night but Argentina were pegged back for the first time just four minutes later as Elias’ second-row partner Felipe Bruno Schmidt sacked a South African lineout drive illegally and referee Takehito Namekawa awarded a penalty try.

Namekawa also showed Bruno Schmidt a yellow card, but Los Pumitas managed to see out the next 10 minutes without conceding further while a player light.

And as the rain continued to bucket down on the Danie Craven Stadium pitch, making the ball ever more slippery and harder to control, so the clock continued ticking on South Africa’s hopes of a comeback.

Argentina made sure of victory with a little over 10 minutes remaining as flanker Juan Penoucos charged down Liam Koen and then beat the Junior Springboks fly-half to the bouncing ball to touch down.

Di Lucca added the conversion to put Los Pumitas 31-7 in front and revitalise their hopes of making the semi-finals even after a late yellow card for Felipe Ladesma and the Bathobele Hlekani try that followed.