Undefeated in Pool A, South Africa secured safe passage to the Under-20 Six Nations Summer Series first-place play-off with a 42-27 win over France.

The Junior Springboks knew that even a try or losing bonus-point would be enough for top spot in the group but were in no mood to settle, running in five tries.

Ruan Venter scored a try in each half for Bafana Nhleko’s side, with Suleiman Hartzenburg, Imad Khan and Lukhanyo Vokozela also crossing while France’s efforts came through Connor Sa, Jules Coulon and a brace for Louis Bielle-Biarrey.


Key Player: Ruan Venter

While Cameron Hanekom was the scourge of England and Ireland’s defences in Rounds 1 and 2, it was his back-row partner Venter who was an unstoppable force against France.

Having been left out of the Ireland victory, Venter looked re-energised and had too much for the France defence on a couple of occasions, muscling his way through from close-range for crucial scores.

In the battle of two of the tournament’s strongest packs, with only one of their own scrums lost between them in the opening two matches, the game was always going to be decided by the forwards and Venter played a key role in South Africa’s dominance in that department.


Play of the game: France back at their best

After looking a little stilted last week, France were back at their fluent best inside 20 minutes here.

Ethan Randle was the key man in the move, looping around off his left wing to take a short pass from fly-half Leo Barre in the centre of the pitch on halfway, and the extra man on the openside created havoc for the Baby Boks’ defence.

The smart work was not done there though as Emilien Gailleton’s run on the inside took Les Bleuets behind enemy lines. His step to beat Donovan Don was exquisite and the pass to Bielle-Biarrey was not bad either.

It was a fantastic passage of play and though the game ultimately ended in defeat for France, the score even had Baby Boks fans on their feet.


Key talking point: France blink first

Knowing that they required a bonus-point win and an eight-point margin of victory to go top, France’s decision to take three points when 17-12 down at the start of the second half was arguably too conservative.

With a central penalty on the 22 it seemed like a perfect opportunity to show their intent and reclaim the lead.

Their caution soon proved costly as a second score for Venter and a penalty from Sacha Mngomezulu soon extended South Africa’s lead to 12 points.


Key moment: South Africa’s double strike

Talk about a response to going behind. With France scoring first you could have forgiven South Africa for showing a few nerves and fearing a loss which would cost them their spot at the top of the group.

Instead, it seemed to rile them. Rather than letting France grow in confidence they sought to steal back the advantage and Neil le Roux’s quick thinking was testament to that.

Having just levelled the scores, rather than settling for three points from a penalty, scrum-half Le Roux sensed French indecision and started a passage of play which ended with France conceding a penalty in desperation on their own line.

Le Roux then kept up the tempo with a quick tap before Venter powered over two phases later.

Two scores in the space of four minutes turned the game in South Africa’s favour and left France, who trailed at half time in a must-win clash, with a mountain to climb.

The tournament’s meanest attack then only needed two scores in the second half to seal top spot, and that all important fourth score came on the hour mark.

The Six Nations Under-20 Summer Series takes place from 24 June – 12 July. Fans can watch every match live. For more information visit: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCJHm6BFw-9JRA1CMekNLwMg