SA under-21 team book a place in the final

South Africa held off defending champion New Zealand 16-12 on Tuesday and will play Australia in the weekend final of the world under-21 rugby championship.

Australia defeated France 28-16 in the other semifinal.

South Africa controlled the ball early and Cedrik McKize broke through the centres to score a 19th-minute converted try.

South Africa led 10-0 at the half despite playing one man short when hooker Chiliboy Ralepelle was sent to the sinbin.

In the second half, South Africa extended its lead with a second penalty by flyhalf Morne Steyn, star of the Super 12 semifinalists the Bulls. He is the lead tournament scorer with 64 points.

Tries to winger Hosea Gear and flanker Serge Lilo lifted New Zealand to within a point going into the last quarter, but South Africa’s brilliant defence held on.

Australia would have won easier but fullback Cameron Shepherd missed six goalkicks, and failed to convert any of their five tries.

Australia led 13-6 at halftime, but France drew even a minute after the restart on a converted try by fullback Jean-Baptiste Peyras. Then hooker Tatafu Polata-Nau’s try restored Australia’s lead, and while he was sinbinned, teammates Shepherd and Digby Ioane scored two tries in three minutes to seal the result.

The final will be on Saturday.

New Zealand and France will play for third place.
Argentina will play Scotland for fifth place after beating England 20-6. Scotland reversed an earlier result to down Wales 43-25.

Ireland routed Canada 77-3, and will play Samoa, which beat Italy 38-25 for the second time in four days, for ninth place. - Sapa-AP