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Jennings haul helps England beat Baby Boks

16 June 2015

England delivered a mature, determined performance to beat South Africa 28-20 in the World Rugby Under 20 Championship semi-final, setting up a chance to defend their title in Saturday's decider against New Zealand.

Jon Callard's charges saw off an impressive Baby Boks outfit on the back of a cohesive, courageous forward effort that encompassed two pushover tries from dominant scrums.

A third came via an opportunistic Nick Tompkins finish after George Perkins' break, opening up a 28-6 advantage with just 10 minutes remaining.

Bath Rugby fly half Rory Jennings also kicked 13 points, and though South Africa scored twice late on through Malcolm Jaer and Daniel Du Plessis, England were good value for the result.

Afterwards, Head Coach Jon Callard said: "I am so proud of the boys and how they played, particularly up front. The South Africans are very big and physical and we more than matched them – not just for size and heart, but for speed of thought and game management.

"The way we disruped the line out and scrum was also very impressive. I would consider this evening a proper game of Test football.

"The players deserve credit for the way they responded after the France game.Everyone knuckled down and realised that if we stick to the processes and do the basics well, we will be a successful side. Today we showed that.

"We now have the opportunity to continue the journey of developing as individuals and a team as we look forward to next Saturday."

It was the battle of the boot for the first 20 minutes and a lively start by England earned the first penalty, successfully slotted by Jennings. A long-range effort by fly half Brandon Thomson then allowed South Africa to equalise before Jennings added his second.

There had been a number of robust challenges in the early exchanges and South Africa captain Hanro Liebenberg saw yellow for a high tackle on Max Clark. England were unfortunate not to extend their lead when Aaron Morris hit the post from the resultant penalty attempt from all of 55 metres out.

Thomson then sent one wide before landing his second penalty of the game as both sides attempted to find some fluency in attack. Led by Ellis Genge, Lewis Ludlam and the outstanding Paul Hill, some hard running provided momentum as England began to build the phases.

Though skipper Liebenberg returned to the fray, Baby Boks lock Jason Jenkins was immediately sent to the sin bin for another high tackle on Jennings, ensuring the team in green and gold remained a player short.

A chip through from Tompkins and a lightning chase by Howard Packman and Morris forced South Africa to carry the ball back over their line and, from the back of the resulting scrum, James Chisholm controlled the ball to perfection before diving over for his second try in two matches.

England were now into their stride and some lively interplay between Jennings and Tompkins earned England a scrum in front of the posts. Clark and Jack Walker came close to scoring and numerous set-piece penalties followed. Only a huge South African defensive effort prevented a second try.

Eventually the ball went wide and it seemed that Jennings had finally scored, neatly stepping through the green wall. However, the television match official ruled he had been held up by wing Leolin Zas.

With South Africa unable to handle the pressure in the scrum, just in front of the posts, a penalty try was awarded and England's forwards were given the points they deserved for their relentless labour. Jennings converted to give his side an 18-6 half time lead.

South Africa came out stronger after the break but it was England who were the first to add further points with Jennings claiming another three.

Chisholm's strong carrying was a crucial part of England's progressive play and the squad's intense work rate continued until the ball went wide from another strong scrum. Perkins showed his pace as he burst through before setting up Tompkins, who surged past three South African defenders en route to the line.

With a late rally, South Africa added tries through Malcolm Jaer and Daniel Du Plessis in the final five minutes, but England's lead and place in the final was already established.

England U20

15. Aaron Morris (Saracens)
14. George Perkins (Saracens)
13. Nick Tompkins (Saracens)
12. Max Clark (Bath Rugby)
11. Howard Packman (Northampton Saints)
10. Rory Jennings (Bath Rugby)
9. James Mitchell (Sale Sharks)

1. Ellis Genge (Bristol Rugby)
2. Jack Walker (Yorkshire Carnegie)
3. Paul Hill (Yorkshire Carnegie)
4. Will Witty (Newcastle Falcons)
5. Charlie Ewels (Bath Rugby, Captain)
6. Lewis Ludlam (Northampton)
7. Will Owen (Leicester Tigers)
8. James Chisholm (Harlequins)

Replacements

16. Jack Innard (Exeter Chiefs) on for Jack Walker, 70 minutes
17. Sebastian Adeniran-Olule (Harlequins) on for Ellis Genge, 60 minutes
18. Ciaran Parker (Sale Sharks) on for Paul Hill, 70 minutes
19. Kieran Treadwell (Harlequins) on for Will Witty, 60 minutes
20. Sam Skinner (Exeter Chiefs) on for James Chisholm, 75 minutes
21. Will Homer (Bath Rugby) on for James Mitchell, 57 minutes
22. Lloyd Evans (Gloucester) on for Rory Jennings, 70 minutes
23. Piers O'Conor (Wasps) on for George Perkins, 75 minutes

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