England will defend their U20 World Championship title against New Zealand as they beat South Africa 28-20 in a physical battle in Calvisano, Italy. It will be England’s third successive final, having won on the two previous occasions.
South Africa were made to pay for indiscipline as two of their key forwards were sinbinned for high tackles. England took advantage and went into the halftime break with a 18-6 lead, before being in what seemed like complete control late in the second half.
Last year’s finalists, South Africa, mounted a late comeback, scoring two tries in the last ten minutes, but it was in vain as England never looked like losing this hard-fought contest.
“I am so proud of the boys and how they played, particularly up front,” said Head Coach Jon Callard. “The South Africans are very big and physical and we more than matched them – not just for size and heart, but for speed of thought and game management.
“The way we disrupted the line out and scrum was also very impressive. I would consider this evening a proper game of test football!”
South African coach Dawie Theron felt that the cards really cost his side in the first half.
“You must give credit for England, who are the defending champions. They came with a massive forward onslaught and were very physical and direct. Both our forwards who were yellow carded are jumpers in the line-out and that disrupted us.
“The fact that we played with seven forwards for 20 minutes in the first half really sapped our energy and left us with too much to do in the end,” said Theron.
The final between England and New Zealand will take place in Cremona on Saturday, 20 June. New Zealand will be after their first title since 2011, while England are after a hat-trick of wins, having claimed the trophy in both 2013 and 2014.
Losing semi-finalists South Africa will play France for third place, at the same venue.