South Africa assistant coach Chean Roux heaped praise on the Baby Boks after a 42-27 win over France put them one game away from achieving their goal of recording an unbeaten Under-20 Six Nations Summer Series.
Not content with merely winning the competition, the Junior Springboks set out to win all four of their fixtures and Roux was delighted with the way his side navigated a tricky test against France.
They will play either Wales or Italy in the first-place play-off, depending on who wins their contest in Treviso on Wednesday, and Roux admitted he would relish the chance to face the hosts.
“It would be great to play Italy, it’s the home country, I think there’s going to be a crowd,” he said. “We’re good friends with the Welsh boys, but it would be fun to play against the home crowd.”
South Africa led by just five points at the break and conceded a penalty immediately after the interval as their unbeaten record soon looked under threat.
But three second-half scores sealed what turned out to be a convincing victory and Roux was delighted with how his team dealt with a potentially nerve-wracking second half.
“These players haven’t played in the last two years, not even club or schoolboy rugby,” he explained.
“Although there’s a lot of technical stuff at this age they need to get right, I think game management is the overall thing that we worked hard on.
“There’s still a lot of stuff that we need to work on but I think they were calm and knew what they wanted to do, and accumulated points with scoreboard pressure.
“When we had to score and got in their 22 they converted that. They did brilliantly, well done to them.”
A story of South Africa’s summer so far has been the dominance of their pack.
Watch France vs South Africa highlights here
All five tries in their win over Ireland came from the forwards and they were just as potent on Tuesday in Verona, as flanker Ruan Venter scored twice and substitute hooker Lukhanyo Vokozela crossed for his second try of the Championship.
“I think the forwards worked their a***s off, they were grinding it out at the end, especially in these conditions,” Roux added.
“I think we’re used to warm conditions in South Africa but it was a great effort and I’m proud of them.
“France are obviously a great team and at the end we got a couple of tries there with the forwards, so well done to them, they did really well.”
South Africa will play the winners of Pool B in Treviso on Tuesday 12th July for the Summer Series title, bringing the competition to a close.