SA Under-20 coach Eric Sauls on Wednesday made two changes to his starting lineup that suffered a 35-42 defeat against Australia to the team that will play New Zealand in the second semi-final of the 2010 IRB Junior World Championship in Rosario on Thursday.
The changes are both made in the backline where Springbok Sevens back Branco du Preez replace the injured Francois Venter at centre. Venter sustained an ankle injury during Sunday’s Pool C clash in Sante Fe. In the other change, Vodacom Free State utility back Nico Scheepers comes into the side in place of Sampie Mastriet.
Branco Du Preez with supporter Aitor Gonzalez in Argentina (Pic: Aitor Gonzalez)
“It’s crunch time in the competition and we’re looking forward to the challenge of playing New Zealand,” said Sauls.“We made two changes to our stating team, but I believe that both Branco and Nico has done well with the limited game time they had to date. I am confident that they will not let us down. They performed well against Scotland and hopefully they’ll produce the goods against the Baby Blacks.”
The SA Under-20s will be aiming to book their place in their first Under-20 final.
The Baby Blacks however have enjoyed previous semi-final success in the IRB Junior World Championship. Not only have they won both tournaments since its inception in 2008, they are also enjoying a record 13-match winning streak and have not lost a game in the history of the Under-20 championship.
“I reckon due to the fact that they have never conceded a defeat in a semi-final should provide us with at least some motivation to do well on Thursday,” added Sauls.
“They will be aiming to keep their awesome record intact, but I am sure our guys will be eager to create some records of our own. The guys will be motivated, naturally as this is quite a big game in terms of our goals we set for the tournament. One of them of course was to qualify for the semis. We’ve done that, but it by no means ends here.
“A place in the final is up for grabs on Thursday and it should be a spectacle. New Zealand versus South Africa games are always like that. They love playing an expansive game, so we’ll have to be well prepared for that. They love running the ball and we’ve noticed that they try and get the ball to those wingers of theirs as quickly as they can. We’re going to have to possibly stop that.”
“But overall, they are a quality side all over the park. We are going to have to play quality rugby to match them. We’ve looked at a few aspects of their play and hopefully we’ll be able to counter most of those things.”
Live coverage of SA Under-20s’ semi-final game against New Zealand will be broadcast live on SuperSport 2 from 21h15, while you can also catch the 2 semi-finals LIVE and for FREE via www.irb.com
SA Under-20s to play New Zealand:
Patrick Lambie, Wandile Mjekevu, Jaco Taute, Branco du Preez, Nico Scheepers, Elton Jantjies, Louis Schreuder, CJ Stander (c), Fanie van der Walt, Siyamthanda Kolisi, Sebastian de Chaves, Kene Okafor, Marcel van der Merwe, Monde Hadebe, Brummer Badenhorst. Reserves – Francois du Toit, Ruan Dreyer, Wessel du Rand, Mlungisi Bali, Lohan Jacobs, Adri Jacobs, Nico Scheepers.