Boks too strong for battling Irish
South Africa U-20 42
Ireland U-20 26
ireland upped their game last night, but just how far they need to go to match the global heavyweights was again rammed home by a Baby Boks side that combined an awesome pack with a riveting backline in last night's Junior World Championship clash.
The fact that Ireland scored 26 points -- Andrew Conway got two fine tries -- and that they competed on level terms for long periods up front, augurs well, but as England showed on Friday, mistakes at this level are ruthlessly punished.
Mike Ruddock and his men will now need to quickly turn their attention to their third pool game in eight days when they take on a Scotland side, who surprisingly put it up to England in yesterday's opening game at Stadio di Monigo.
South Africa led 27-19 at the end of an opening half, during which they threatened to run away with the game. However, a dogged Irish performance kept them in the game as Ruddock's men refused to buckle.
Ireland needed a good start and they got it from the superb Conway, who carried from deep and while South Africa scrambled back, they conceded a penalty and James McKinney gave Ireland a 3-0 lead after two minutes.
But the power of the Boks was immediately obvious on the restart as they blasted through the Irish defence for centre Francois Venter to finally touchdown after a series of bursts. Johan Goosen converted and then added a penalty after McKinney had missed one for Ireland.
Ireland received a further boost with another penalty from McKinney to leave it 13-9 at the end of the opening quarter after Eoin McKeon and Craig Gilroy were almost over for Ireland.
But then South Africa turned the screw. Venter crossed for his second after a wonderful inside pass from flanker Nizaam Carr under the posts.
McKinney responded with another penalty, but then South Africa lock Eben Etzebeth burst through the tackles of Niall Annett and Tadhg Furlong for their third try after the Irish scrum had been turned over on their own '22.'
But Ireland refused to die -- they got a penalty at the next scrum after South Africa buckled -- and then Conway produced a moment of sheer magic to skip through a series of tackles to score a magnificent try under the posts.
McKinney converted to leave eight between them at the break.
Goosen missed a penalty two minutes after the restart after Jordi Murphy was in an altercation with South African prop Stephan Kotze, who was holding him.
The bounce of the ball denied Ireland at the other end when another superb break by Conway created an opening, but his crossfield kick to the unmarked Craig Gilroy came poorly off the surface and South Africa got back to repel a series of Irish surges.
South Africa extended their lead after 56 minutes with one of the scores of the tournament when Goosen landed a drop goal from just inside half, 10 metres in from the left touchline after a quick line-out to put them 30-19 ahead as Ruddock emptied the bench.
Winger Wandile Mjekevu sealed the win and the bonus point for South Africa coming up to the hour after Carr was again the creator.
But Ireland responded well and Tiernan O'Halloran and Aaron Conneely combined in the right corner to send Conway over for his third try of the tournament, with Paddy Jackson adding the points to leave it 35-26 with eight minutes remaining.
However, Ireland's hopes of a losing bonus-point were thwarted when South African captain Arno Botha got his third try of the tournament in the dying moments to send them into a top of the table decider against England on Saturday evening. For Ireland will be matter of gearing up for a third match in eight days.
•England made it two wins from two but were made to work hard by a determined Scotland side before powering away for a 39-18 victory.
•NEW Zealand ran in 14 tries to extend their 100pc Junior World Championships run to 16 matches with a 92-0 win over Wales. The Baby Blacks have never been beaten in the competition since its inception in 2008.
South Africa -- U Beyers; C Skosan, B Moolman, F Venter, W Mjekevu; J Goosen, L Jacobs; S Kotze, M van Vuuren, JR Jenkinson; R Venter, E Etzebeth; N Carr, C du Preez, A Botha. Reps: B Mbonambi for van Vuuren, 56; P Rademan for Jacobs, 56; P Jordaan for Mjekevu, 71; J Cook for Venter, 75; S Kolisi for Carr, 77; N Schonert for Kotze, 77.
Ireland -- T O'Halloran (Galwegians); A Conway (Blackrock), B Macken (Blackrock), JJ Hanrahan (UL Bohemians), C Gilroy (Dungannon); J McKinney (Queens University), K Marmion (University of Wales Institute Cardiff); J Tracy (UCD), N Annett (Belfast Harlequins), T Furlong (Clontarf); M Kearney (Clontarf), D Qualter (Buccaneers); J Murphy (Lansdowne), A Conneely (Corinthians), E McKeon (Galwegians). Reps: I Henderson (Queens Univ) for Qualter (45), L Marshall (Ballymena) for Hanrahan (51), D Doyle (UCD) for Annett (54); P Jackson (Dungannon) for McKinney (56), P Du Toit (UCD) for Marmion, (66), C Carey (Ballymena) for Furlong (66), D Gallagher (Dublin University) for Kearney (71).
REF -- J White (New Zealand).