Boks hold on at Lof­tus

Rain makes play some­what tricky for Boks

CityPress - - Sport - DAN RETIEF at LOF­TUS VERS­FELD dan.retief@city­

In a match as desul­tory as the weather, a bedrag­gled Spring­bok side hardly had the look of a team to strike ter­ror in the hearts of the All Blacks and the Wal­la­bies as they ground out a win over Ar­gentina’s Pu­mas.

Con­di­tions were dif­fi­cult at Lof­tus Vers­feld last night for the start of the Boks’ Rugby Cham­pi­onship cam­paign, and for the Pu­mas, the close de­feat would have felt like a moral vic­tory.

Af­ter be­ing smashed in the cor­re­spond­ing fix­ture in Joburg last year and then hold­ing the Boks to a draw back home, the Ar­gen­tini­ans will fancy their chances of turn­ing over Jean de Vil­liers’ men in their re­match in Salta on Satur­day.

Both teams were forced to make late changes be­fore the start. Willem Al­berts cried off in­jured and was re­placed by Mar­cel Coet­zee, with Te­boho Mo­hoje mov­ing on to the bench. In the Pu­mas, cen­tre Juan Martín Hernán­dez had to be re­placed by San­ti­ago Igle­sias.

But the main player turned out to be the weather. The rain, which at times in­ten­si­fied to a heavy down­pour, be­gan to fall as the teams were lin­ing up for the an­thems.

This in­ter­ven­tion of the el­e­ments changed the na­ture of the game as the play­ers strug­gled to con­trol the wet ball and keep their foot­ing as they splashed through wa­ter col­lect­ing un­der the sur­face.

But the Spring­boks made a stun­ning start as Ruan Pien­aar scored in the right-hand cor­ner in the sec­ond minute. The scrum half had caught the Pu­mas un­awares by break­ing on the blind­side and a quick one-two with winger Cor­nal Hen­dricks set him free for a sprint to the cor­ner.

Han­drè Pol­lard slot­ted the an­gled con­ver­sion but af­ter that the score­board changed only twice more – Pol­lard and his op­po­site num­ber Ni­colás Sánchez ex­chang­ing penal­ties.

The Pu­mas gave the Boks a scare in the first scrum when they shoved them off the ball, but this small tri­umph that for­wards set such store by had an in­verse neg­a­tive ef­fect as the tourists con­ceded penal­ties by be­ing too ea­ger.

The ball hardly reached the teams’ re­spec­tive back­lines as high kicks be­came the pre­ferred form of at­tack.

The weather might have been chilly but tem­pers were hot as soon af­ter the restart. Eben Etze­beth, who had re­placed Bakkies Botha, tan­gled with sub­sti­tute scrum half Tomás Cubelli in a most un­equal match-up.

In Sydney ,the All Blacks failed for the sec­ond time in their his­tory to set a record of 18 con­sec­u­tive test vic­to­ries when they were held to a 12-12 draw by the Wal­la­bies. Rain and a soggy field made for dif­fi­cult con­di­tions and nei­ther side scored a try.

New Zealand were the first coun­try to get to 17 straight wins dur­ing the 60s and Richie McCaw’s men will have to be sat­is­fied to share the record with their pre­de­ces­sors and the Spring­boks who reached the mark un­der Nick Mal­lett in 1997/98.


SLIP­PERY WHEN WET Wil­lie le Roux tries hold­ing on to the ball dur­ing the Boks’ rainy en­counter against Ar­gentina at Lof­tus last night

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from South Africa

© PressReader. All rights reserved.