England led 3-0 at halftime and the Tuesday night fixture at Cape Town Stadium was the final Pool B assignment for the two teams, ahead of the weekend’s play-off rounds.
The junior Boks had to contend with two late withdrawals, were slow out of the blocks and forced onto the back foot for the opening seven minutes.
But the South Africans absorbed the pressure and responded with a passage of pressure play, which saw the English pinned in the half for about 12 minutes.
The Baby Boks managed two drives up to the English tryline, but England’s defence held firm.
Initially two clearance kicks from England relieved the pressure, but once they gained possession their forwards and backs combined for penetrative movements down the middle. However, South Africa’s defence was equal to the task.
England managed to open the score when fullback Tommy Bell slotted over a long-range penalty in the 33rd minute to make it 3-0. That was how the score stood at the break.
The Baby Boks returned with a greater sense of urgency and in the opening 10 minutes of the second half twice cracked England’s defence to cross the try line. Flyhalf Handre Pollard slotted over both conversions.
The first five-pointer came after William Small-Smith broke close to the halfway line, and the England defence leaked a gap, allowing almost free passage to the goal line.
A few minutes later, a Steven Kitshoff-led maul had England back-pedalling in front of their posts, before flanker Shaun Adendorff peeled off the back of the maul for the touch-down.
In between those tries, Bell reduced the deficit with the penalty for a 14-6 score after 53 minutes.
The eight-point lead was very nearly whittled away as the Baby Boks incurred the wrath of the referee and Bells slotted over two penalties to make it 14-6.
Cheered on by the 14 000-strong crowd, South Africa struck back almost immediately, with flanker Pieter Steph du Toit diving over next to the posts. Pollard’s conversion opened up a nine-point lead (21-12).
The momentum of the South African forwards took its toll in the 70th minute when the visitors’ defence failed to halt another forward charge and Adendorff was set free to bag the bonus-point try. Pollard landed the conversion for a 28-12 lead.
Six minutes before the end England managed a further penalty through Bell.
After the competition of all the pool matches on Tuesday, it was determined that South Africa will play Argentina in the one semifinal, while four-time champions New Zealand will play Wales in the other semifinal at Newlands on Sunday. – Sapa
South Africa Under-20: Tries: William Small-Smith, Shaun Adendorff (2) and Pieter Steph du Toit. Conversions: Handré Pollard (4).
England Under-20: Penalties: Tommy Bell (5)