SA Schools A thrashed England 53-14 in their second match of the International U18 series at Bishops College in Cape Town on Tuesday.
Despite a 23-20 scoreline, SA Schools A were well beaten in their series opener against Italy. That defeat prompted coach Sean Erasmus to make all but 11 changes to his starting lineup, and the team was the better for it.
The more flexible midfield of captain Louritz van der Schyff and Janco van Heyningen gave the backline a sharper attacking edge, and the revamped pack was more direct and commanded the lineouts and scrums.
They dominated every facet of play and while their attack was much sharper on the day, the improved defence caught the eye.
England, in many respects, played like SA Schools A did against Wales. They created ample try-scoring opportunities, but failed to capitalise on good individual work.
The visitors made a promising start when they immediately had SA Schools A on the back foot from kick-off, but determined defence denied them. And that opening sequence of play set the tone for the match.
England conceded first as they paid the price for trying to run the ball out of their 22 instead of kicking it out. A forward pass presented the hosts with the perfect scoring opportunity from a scrum, and they took it. Flyhalf Tyrone Green flummoxed England’s tacklers with a dummy pass to set up Van Heyningen, who scored under the sticks. The lead was soon extended to 10-0 when England again failed to clear their lines and conceded a penalty, goaled by fullback Abner van Reenen.
Van Heyningen could have doubled his try tally when he raced away with an intercepted pass, but he was hauled in and turned over in the tackle. From there England launched a counter-attack through speedster Ben Loader, who left his opponent in his wake. But again, stern cover defence forced a knock-on off the England winger inside the in-goal area.
England started to gain more possession, but the South Africans continued to frustrate them in the tackle and when a stray pass didn’t go to hand, wing Austin Davids neatly intercepted and raced clear to score. England’s fortune turned from bad to worse when Loader was sent off for deliberately blocking the ball at a ruck and hooker Schalk Erasmus barged over for a 22-point advantage. The English did eventually get on the board in the first half to trail 22-7 at the turn.
The second half was one-way traffic in favour of the South Africans.
Wing Tadendaishe Mujawo added his name to the scoresheet by neatly collecting a kick by Green, before Erasmus wriggled over to complete his brace.
The game broke open from there as SA Schools A started to run the ball from deep. Lock Ryno Pieterse also crossed for a double either side of a five-pointer by replacement Ayabonga Oliphant.
There was a consolation try for England, but unless they field a completely different side to face SA Schools on Saturday in the series finale, they could well be in for a bigger defeat than this.
SA Schools A – Tries: Janco van Heyningen, Austin Davids, Schalk Erasmus (2), Tadendaishe Mujawo, Ryno Pieterse (2), Ayabonga Oliphant. Conversions: Adner van Reenen, Tyrone Green (2), Davids (2). Penalty: Van Reenen.
England – Tries: Gabriel Ibitoye, James Grayson. Conversions: Tom Parton, Grayson.
SA Schools A – 15 Abner van Reenen, 14 Austin Davids, 13 Janco van Heyningen, 12 Louritz van der Schyff (c), 11 Tadendaishe Mujawo, 10 Tyrone Green, 9 Zinedine Booysen, 8 Dian Schoonees, 7 Francke Horn, 6 Athi Magwala, 5 Juan van der Mescht, 4 Ryno Pieterse, 3 Keagan Glade, 2 Schalk Erasmus, 1 Cabous Eloff.
Subs: 16 Dylan Richardson, 17 Gugu Nelani, 18 Mornay Smith, 19 Christopher Havenga, 20 Mark Snyman, 21 Ruan Vermaak, 22 Sanele Nohamba, 23 Lubabalo Dobela, 24 Sicelo Tole, 25 Cameron Hufke, 26 Ayabonga Oliphant.
England – 15 Gabriel Ibitoye, 14 Joe Cokanasiga, 13 Oli Morris, 12 Jacob Umaga, 11 Ben Loader, 10 Tom Parton, 9 Harry Simmons, 8 Sam Moore, 7 Ben Curry, 6 Josh Bayliss, 5 Josh Williams, 4 Dino Lamb-Cona, 3 Ehren Painter, 2 Jamie Blamire, 1 Jarod Leat.
Subs: 16 Henry Walker, 17 Alex Seville, 18 Ciaran Knight, 19 Ted Hill, 20 Tom Curry, 21 Tom Willis, 22 Rory Brand, 23 James Grayson, 24 Ali Crossdale, 25 Matt Williams, 26 Levi Davis.
Photo: Ashley Vlotman/Gallo Images