Captain Salmaan Moerat scored a brace as SA Schools hammered France 42-3 at Bishops’ famed Piley Rees field in Cape Town on Tuesday.
The French side was brimming with confidence after upsetting England 23-18 on day one of the International U18 series and will have fancied their chances against the hosts. And for a fleeting few minutes, it looked like they had a real chance against a SA Schools team filled with Paarl Boys’ and Western Province players, who have not tasted defeat over the past 12 months at schools or provincial level.
The hosts were uncharacteristically off the pace in the opening exchanges with France dominating possession and territory. And when flyhalf Romain Ntamack turned an early breakdown penalty into points for the visitors, the Piley Rees crowd applauded his effort anxiously.
They blew the visitors off the park with a sparkling attacking, authoritative defensive and overall supreme performance in the final 50 minutes of this one-sided clash, while Les Bleus offered little after their 20-minute cameo.
With the team scoring six unanswered tries – three in either half – several players delivered standout performances, but no one was more impressive than Moerat and wing Muller du Plessis, who also bagged a double.
The shift in momentum came the moment outside centre Manie Rass hit a gaping hole before freeing Du Plessis down the left flank for the opening score. The floodgates opened after that. Moerat scored twice in the first period with his second effort particularly brilliant after he put a dismissive fend on his direct opponent en route to the try line.
Trailing 21-3 at the break, the chances of France mounting a comeback looked slim. And it proved to be the case as they failed to add points after the restart.
With SA Schools on attack and Moerat in possession, France clearly expected another run into contact as they swamped towards the towering lock. But the captain simply swung a floated pass outside to wing Mike Mavovana who finished behind the posts untouched.
Moerat was sin-binned, but even a numerical disadvantage couldn’t deter SA Schools. Talented flyhalf Damian Willemse scored the fifth and fullback Gianni Lombard made it a full house off the kicking tee before being substituted. Du Plessis then rounded off mauling with the sixth try.
SA Schools – Tries: Muller du Plessis (2), Salmaan Moerat (2), Mike Mavovana, Damian Willemse. Conversions: Gianni Lombard (5), Ruan de Swardt.
France – Penalty: Romain Ntamack.
SA Schools – 15 Gianni Lombard, 14 Mike Mavovana, 13 Manuel Rass, 12 Rikus Pretorius, 11 Muller du Plessis, 10 Damian Willemse, 9 Richman Gora, 8 Khwezi Mafu, 7 Muller Uys, 6 Charl Serdyn, 5 Ben-Jason Dixon, 4 Salmaan Moerat (c), 3 Sazi Sandi, 2 Daniel Jooste, 1 Nathan McBeth.
Subs: 16 JP Botha, 17 Reece Bezuidenhout, 18 Johan Neethling, 19 JP Steenkamp, 20 JC Pretorius, 21 Rewan Kruger, 22 Ruan de Swardt, 23 Wandisile Simelane, 24 Khanya Ncusane, 25 Emilio Adonis, 26 Sihle Njezula.
France – 15 Clement Laporte, 14 Maxime Marty, 13 Julien Delbouis, 12 Jules Even, 11 Iban Etchevery, 10 Romain Ntamack, 9 Enzo Hardy, 8 Adrien Vigne, 7 Baptiste Heguy, 6 Cameron Woki, 5 Pierre Henri, 4 Kilian Geraci, 3 Daniel Brennan, 2 Teddy Baubigny, 1 Brendan Boniface.
Subs: 16 Maxime Lamothe, 17 Ugo Lebrun, 18 Dorian Clerc, 19 Alexandre Coing, 20 Walid Maamry, 21 Adrien Jozroland, 22 Jules Gimbert, 23 Andrien Seguret, 24 Pierre Toumebize, 25 Lucas Tharin.
Photo: Ashley Vlotman/Gallo Images