‘Everyone was dogs’: Junior Wallabies roll up their sleeves to beat Springboks in TRC as rising fullback scores twice


The Junior Wallabies have responded in the best possible fashion from their first-up loss to Argentina in the under-20s Rugby Championship by defeating the Junior Springboks 24-19 at Sunshine Coast Stadium.

After a demoralising 25-6 to Argentina last week, a vastly improved effort from the forwards, a double to Shane Wilcox and the boot of Cullen Gray proved to be the difference.

While physicality and set-piece prowess are the hallmarks of South African rugby, the Junior Wallabies did a number on their rivals up front.

Indeed, their rolling maul, with Ottavio Tuipulotu – the younger brothers of Scottish international Sione and Edinburgh-bound Mosese – caused the Springboks all sorts of issues, with the hooker controlling the set-piece well.

Discipline cost the Junior Boks badly, with loose-head prop Mbasa Maqubela being shown an upgraded red card for making direct contact with an opponent’s head at a ruck midway through the first half.

Then, with Nathan Grey’s side holding a narrow 17-14 lead, the Junior Wallabies were awarded a penalty try after Bathobele Hlekani was deemed to deliberately collapse the home side’s rolling maul. It also saw the second-rower sent to the sin bin.

Australia celebrate their victory over South Africa during The Rugby Championship U20 Round 2 match at Sunshine Coast Stadium on May 07, 2024. (Photo by Albert Perez/Getty Images)

While South African winger Litelihle Bester grabbed his second to close the margin to five-points, it was too little too late as the Junior Wallabies held on.

Junior Wallabies skipper Toby Macpherson said the turnaround was built off the back of a “mindset” shift, which came after their first-up loss to Los Pumas.

“We knew the South Africans were going to run fast and run direct,” the second-rower said.

“The messages through the game and throughout the week were if they’re going to run straight at us we’re just going to sit them on their backside and I think we achieved that.

“I thought it was a bloody awesome game, really physical, everyone was dogs out there and it was to just see a tight contest.

“We had a big week after last game and we went through a lot of adversity as a group, lots of changes, and I think that’s a testament to this group and a testament to Australian rugby that that’s the way we want to play.

“We’re sick of being in the position we’re in and I think that’s a good point for us to start off the back of last week.”

The balance on the line and the offload here ????‍????????#TRCU20 #VisitSunshineCoast pic.twitter.com/OtQjGA4L7Y

— TheRugbyChampionship (@SanzarTRC) May 7, 2024

Springboks captain JF van Heerden, who scored the first try by getting under the Junior Wallabies from close range, said his side shot themselves in the foot, with errors in the wet at the back and a 13-7 penalty count against them hurting.

“It’s disappointing, losing a game like that,” he said.

“Feeling at times like we lost against ourselves.”

Shane Wilcox scored a double during the Junior Wallabies’ win over South Africa at Sunshine Coast Stadium. (Photo by Albert Perez/Getty Images)

Earlier, a penalty to playmaker Grey and the first of two tries to fullback Wilcox saw the Junior Wallabies take a 10-7 lead into half time.

After some continuity in attack from the visitors, Bester burst through a hole centre field to score his first of two second-half tries.

But the Junior Wallabies hit back minutes later as Wilcox finished off the outstanding work from the lively Angus Staniforth to score his second.

His second five-pointer came also made up for his earlier blunder as he failed to put his outside centre Frankie Goldsbrough away down the short side.

The Junior Wallabies will now take on the Junior All Blacks on Sunday, with The Rugby Championship on the line after their trans-Tasman opponents settled for a 13-13 draw first up against South Africa last week before easily putting away Argentina.

Rising Queensland Reds playmaker Harry McLaughlin-Phillips is also in line to make his return to the Junior Wallabies, having been released this week to be eligible for selection.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.