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Lessons learnt as SA U18s set sights on England

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    Posted: 16-Aug-2023 at 4:21pm

SA Under-18 head coach Katleho Lynch could not hide his disappointment after his team went down to France in the U18 International Series on Tuesday, but he urged his team to lift their heads and knuckle down as they start preparing for their second game, against England on Saturday.


Lynch realises it will be a tough encounter against a well-coached England side, who recorded a comprehensive victory over France last Friday, while were way too strong for the Western Province XV on Tuesday.


After England beat the WP team by 78-15, the South Africans were made to pay for a slow start against France, who led by 23-0 at the break before recording a 37-24 win.


While their first half performance wasn’t what the coaches had expected, Lynch was far more upbeat about what he saw after the break, with the SA U18s “winning” the second half by 24-13.


“It really was a game of two halves, and the high error rate in the first half put us under immense pressure,” said Lynch.


“In Test matches at any level, if you allow errors to accumulate and you keep on repeating them, you’re going to end up chasing the score, and that’s exactly what happened against France.”


An early injury to starting prop Ranon Fouche didn’t help the SA U18s’ cause, but Lynch, who offered no excuses for the defeat, was happy that the changes they made to the team bore fruit in the second half.


“Yes, our performance in the second half was much better, but by then it was almost too late and we had to chase the game,” he said.


“I was happy to see more spark from the players and we scored some great individual tries. We will now look to build our confidence off the way we finished the game and prepare accordingly for England.


“Apart from preparing the players – all of whom are part of SA Rugby’s Elite Player Development pathway – for matches, we also have to expose them to the pressure of international rugby, as that is where the selectors can distinguish between players who can make the necessary step up as they progress into the next phase of their development.”


Lynch will name his team for Saturday’s match later in the week. The final round of the U18 International Series takes place at Paarl Boys High School’s Brug Street fields on Saturday. France take on the WP XV at 13h00 and the match between South Africa and England is scheduled for 15h00. Both encounters will be streamed live on SuperSport Schools.

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