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Rugby | Juniors

Bafana Nhleko © Gallo Images

It’s playoff time, 80 minutes is all we have - Nhleko



Junior Springbok assistant coach Bafana Nhleko said on Sunday it would take a determined 80-minute effort in the World Rugby U20 Championship semifinal against England in Narbonne on Tuesday to book a place in the final as the competition reaches the business end.

“The first thing we need to get right is an 80-minute performance,” said Nhleko.

“We have played well at times – in patches – but at the same time, we have not been able to string together the kind of performance that we are capable of.

“The round-robin stages are over now, and it is playoff time, so we only have 80 minutes.”

The SA U20s earned their place in the semifinal following bonus-point victories against Georgia and Ireland, before a strong fightback to secure a bonus-point in their final pool match against hosts, France, despite going down.

Nhleko expected a challenging test against the English, who finished the pool stages as the top team after bonus-point victories in all of their pool matches. England U20 are also second to New Zealand in terms of tries scored and conceded up to now. But he said the Junior Boks knew what they had to do to advance to the final.

“England are very well organised in terms of their attacking structure, and their set pieces are very good,” said Nhleko.

“So for us it will be a case of working very hard, pressurising their attack and keeping the ball so that we can apply pressure. If we can improve our defence and place them under pressure, we will be in a solid position because we have showed that we have the ability to score tries.”

Nhleko believed that the team’s fighting spirit in their last three matches would set them in good stead and said: “The character and fight we have shown up to now is certainly something we can build on.

“But again, we want to start well. We have worked hard to rectify that aspect of our game, especially after the French match. So we will continue to put in the hard yards at training in the next two days, and then it is up to us to go out there and give everything on the field.”

Junior Springbok coach Chean Roux will announce his team to face England on Monday.



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