Under-20s World Rugby ChampionshipEngland (17) 24Tries: Mercer 2 Mitchell Cons: Malins 3 Pens: MalinsSouth Africa (12) 22Tries: Augustus 2, Van Heerden Cons: Bosch 2 Pens: Bosch
Captain Zach Mercer’s late converted try sent England Under-20s into the World Rugby Junior Championship final with victory over South Africa.
The Bath number eight powered over with five minutes to go, adding to his first-half try in Georgia on Tuesday.
Alex Mitchell also crossed for the defending champions, who have lost five men to the senior tour of Argentina.
They will face the winners of France and New Zealand in the final in Tbilisi on Sunday (15:00 BST kick-off).
Juarno Augustus’ double and a converted score from Ruben van Heerden looked to have won it for the young Springboks, whose forwards got the better of England in the second half in the scrum, line-out and at the breakdown.
But a South African error handed England a final attacking chance and Mercer crashed over, with Max Malins adding the extras to seal a two-point victory and put England into the final for the fifth year running.
“We were under the cosh for a while but I knew we could come out of it,” the 19-year-old skipper told ITV.
“We will watch New Zealand and France, two outstanding teams. We are looking forward to it.”
England are the defending champions and chasing a fourth title in five years, having won in 2013, 2014 and 2016.