Tiaan Lange’s hat-trick helped South Africa overpower Wales 47-27 in Treviso to finish the Under-20 Six Nations Summer Series as the only undefeated side after four wins on the bounce, writes Josh Graham in Treviso.
Three from Lange, Suleiman Hartzenberg’s double plus tries for Louw Nel and Ethan James gave the classy Junior Boks a comfortable victory to round off a supremely successful few weeks in Italy.
Wins over England, Ireland and France had earned Bafana Nhleko’s side a shot at Pool B winners Wales but they showed the gulf in class between the two sides with a clinical display at Benetton’s Stadio Comunale di Monigo.
Wales’ second half yielded tries for Mason Grady, Joe Westwood, Ethan Fackrell and Cameron Jones but it was too little too late for the Pool B winners, but they can hold their heads high having restored plenty of pride in the jersey with wins over Scotland, Georgia and Italy following a disappointing fifth-place finish in the Six Nations.
The Junior Springboks made a fast start on their first visit to Treviso, No.8 Nel’s barnstorming carry down the blindside saw him squirrel over for the opening score after six minutes.
Fly-half Sacha Mngomezulu slotted a sublime touchline conversion before Wales skipper Joe Hawkins opened his side’s account with a confident penalty only for prop Nathan Evans to see yellow for a tackle in the air.
Two minutes later South Africa were in again as replacement hooker Lange made an instant impression, timing his breakaway off the maul to perfection to dot down.
Mngomezulu delivered another touchline conversion before finding his inside centre Hartzenberg who showed Wales' midfield defence a clean pair of heels to score the Junior Boks’ third try.
Lange then found himself in the right place at the right time again to score his second by burrowing under the attempted tackle of Christ Tshiunza from close range.
Mngomezulu trudged off with what appeared to be a fractured wrist, forcing scrum-half Nico Steyn out one but it mattered little as his side took a 23-point cushion into the break despite Nel’s sin-binning for a dangerous clearout.
Wales hit the ground running in the second half as Cameron Winnett broke from the 22 before feeding it inside to centre Grady who bounced full-back Donovan Don and charged home from halfway.
But South Africa replied immediately, Lange capping a remarkable performance after his early introduction by pumping the legs hard to complete his hat-trick under the posts.
Hartzenberg added his second after winning the foot race to touch down Steyn’s grubber before James’ fancy footwork saw him dart over.
But Wales rallied late as Westwood grounded Hawkins’ grubber before flanker Fackrell and Jones added some respectability to the scoreline with the contest long over.
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