In a great encounter, the South African under-20 rugby team showcased their determination, rallying in the final quarter to claim a narrow 24-16 triumph over Argentina and secure a place in the World Rugby Championship semifinals.
Facing Ireland in one of the semifinal matchups, while France and England square off in the other, the Baby Boks will have their sights set on advancing further in the tournament. Both semis are scheduled for Sunday.
Entering the game following unexpected defeats, with Argentina losing to Italy (34-26) and the Baby Boks falling to Georgia (20-0), the stakes were high for this final pool clash.
Both teams needed a victory to progress to the semifinals.The first half favored the South Americans, even with a strong wind at their backs.
Dominating their opponents in various aspects of the game, particularly in scrums and lineouts, the Argentineans forced a flurry of penalties from the home team.
Flyhalf Valentino Dicapua capitalized on these penalties, propelling his team to a 9-0 lead. However, Bok hooker Juan Else swiftly responded with a powerful surge over the try line, only for the Pumas to strike back promptly with a try of their own.
At halftime, Argentina held a 16-7 advantage, appearing in control of the match as their forwards exerted dominance and the South Africans struggled with execution in basic aspects of play.
The second half commenced on a positive note for the home team, with Smith successfully converting a penalty kick.
Despite persistent errors, particularly in their kicking game as they aimed to leverage the wind, the Baby Boks gradually gained momentum and control.
In the 69th minute, the South Africans seized the lead for the first time when tenacious No 8 Corne Beets powered over for a try.
Replicating his efforts four minutes from time, Beets secured another crucial score, while flyhalf Jean Smith ensured conversions for both tries.
By displaying resilience and tenacity, the Baby Boks sealed their spot in the semifinals, erasing the disappointment of their previous loss.
As they prepare to face Ireland, they will aim to build upon this hard-fought victory and continue their pursuit of the World Rugby Championship title.