SA under-21 team win Rugby World Championship

South Africa defeated Australia 24-20 to win the under-21 Rugby World Championship on Saturday, fending off a late challenge by the Australians.

South Africa dominated most of the way but nearly threw its advantage away in the final minutes when Australia pressed near the tryline.

There was no scoring in the first 24 minutes as both teams defended strongly, but showed imprecision in handling movements and lost balls.

Tournament top scorer Morne Steyn missed two penalty kicks before converting both South African tries in the first half by Derick Kuun and Sangoni Mixoli.

Australia’s Cameroon Shepherd missed his first kick but then converted two penalties for his team’s only first-half scoring.

South Africa attacked more and led 14-6 at the half, but captain Marius Delport, who also came close to scoring tries, left injured after 30 minutes.

South Africa continued pressing more in the second half, and Australia gave up more penalties.

Ruan Pienaar escaped to score an easy try which he converted himself after 50 minutes to put South Africa ahead 21-6, but Australia’s Henari Veratau answered.

In the final 10 minutes, Australia pressed near South Africa’s tryline. With a minute left, Australia’s Ben Robinson scored a try converted by Shepherd to make it 24-20. Moments later Australia nearly scored again but fell just short.

South Africa could have won more comfortably if Steyn had not missed four penalties and a drop.
Even so, Steyn finished with 68 points as the tournament’s leading scorer.

Pienaar replaced Steyn as kicker in the second half but scored only one of three penalties. He finished as his team’s top scorer of the match with 10 points.

After the finalists, New Zealand finished third and France fourth. Argentina was fifth and Scotland in sixth in a tournament highlighting some of the best young rugby players in the world.

About 20 000 people watched Saturday’s championship match at Malvinas stadium in Mendoza. - Sapa-AP

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