A second-half Ireland fightback was not enough as they fell victim to an unstoppable South Africa pack, losing 33-24 in Verona.

All five Junior Bok scores came from their forwards, four of which came inside the opening 35 minutes, through Cameron Hanekom, Reinhardt Ludwig, Tiaan Lange, Corne Rahl and sub Lukhanyo Vokozela.

Ireland were much stronger after the break but the 23-point half-time lead proved insurmountable, despite the best efforts of Dylan O’Grady, Oisin Michel and Reuben Crothers.


Key player: Cameron Hanekom

The Six Nations has never just been about eye-catching back play. And while South Africa demonstrated against England that their backs can mix it with the northern hemisphere’s best, it was their pack who dealt the first blow in Verona.

Hanekom was on hand to take the ball off Lange after the hooker made significant ground from the back of an unstoppable rolling maul.

The No.8 beat three defenders taking South Africa to within five metres of the Irish line. He got back to his feet and was eager to finish the move off, demanding the ball a phase later to push through despite the close attention of several Irish defenders.

It was a lesson in how to carry but that was not the end of his good work. He was seemingly everywhere in a South African defence which suffocated Ireland in the first-half.


Play of the game: Prendergast takes his chance

It was another tough day at the office for Ireland but they did come away with a memorable score.

With numbers stacked on the blind side, fly-half Sam Prendergast put through a delicate grubber for winger O’Grady.

Having beat Donovan Don for speed, the ball sat up perfectly for O’Grady inside the in-goal area, and the Leinster pair had combined to make an exquisite score look entirely effortless.

It capped an impressive and assured performance from Prendergast in what was his first start of the tournament.


Key talking point: Is there any stopping South Africa?

This was by no means a faultless display from South Africa.

Their back line did not play with the same flair and freedom as they did against England, which was surprising considering coach Bafana Nhleko named an unchanged backline.

They looked a little tentative after the interval, though a combination of heat and fatigue may have been responsible for the gradual fade in their play.

If they can marry together the performance of their backs against England, and the sheer brutality of their forwards in the first-half against Ireland, surely nobody can stop them.


Key moment: Mnogmezulu dances through

Ireland had begun to slowly work their way into the game after total Bok dominance in the early stages. Prendergast had kicked their first points with a close-range penalty and it seemed that the early South African pressure had dissipated.

But fly-half Sacha Mnogmezulu had other ideas. With nothing on inside the South Africa half, he decided to go by himself and punched a hole through the Irish defence.

The route to the line was by no means straight forward, and with Aitzol King and Patrick Campbell covering, he drifted towards his lone support runner, Nico Steyn, and put through a delightful grubber kick for his half-back partner to chase.

Steyn was just denied a quite brilliant score by the recovering King but South Africa rallied and struck just a few phases later through Ludwig.

That paved the way for a further two scores in the space of 10 minutes, as they all-but secured victory before half-time.

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