Boks take France out

The hosts stayed on the pos­i­tive side of the col­li­sions and kept pow­er­ing on as rel­a­tively hap­less French­men strug­gled to get though

CityPress - - Sport - SIMNIKIWE XABANISA at Lof­tus Vers­feld sports@city­press.co.za

It may have been against a French team shorn of its out and out first team reg­u­lars, but the Spring­boks showed just the right amount of en­cour­ag­ing signs in their con­vinc­ing win over the vis­i­tors at last night. With this sea­son all about eras­ing the scars of a year in which Al­lis­ter Coet­zee’s men won just four of their 12 tests, this first of three tests – not with­out er­ror but full of at­ti­tude and de­sire – was a promis­ing start.

Per­haps fit­tingly for two teams who didn’t field their out and out first teams for a va­ri­ety of rea­sons, the game it­self was sub­dued and scrappy.

Dur­ing that time, the scrums, which saw the Boks swap num­ber eight War­ren White­ley and blind­side flanker Oupa Mo­hoje on their own ball, were a lit­tle un­steady to start with. But the steady stream of penal­ties from ref­eree Glen Jackson’s whis­tle meant they got some mea­sure of the French scrum.

With the springy Mo­hoje and White­ley in the pack, it was a sur­prise that the Boks chose to use only two op­tions in locks Eben Etze­beth and Franco Mostert in the first half.

When they did, like when they threw to White­ley at the back of the line-out in the sec­ond half, it re­sulted in the yawn­ing gap that gave Ross Cronjé a try on de­but when the vis­i­tors had Brice Dulin in the sin bin for the early tackle on Court­nall Skosan that re­sulted in the Boks’ penalty try.

By and large, the hosts were on the pos­i­tive side of the col­li­sions, but, with the ex­cep­tion of the ex­plo­sive Marx and the force­ful Siya Kolisi, they are still in the mar­ket for go-for­ward mer­chants and out and out strike run­ners.

And it’s not of­ten that peo­ple come to a rugby game to see the de­fence, but the Boks’ re­sis­tance was un­der scru­tiny yes­ter­day. While their struc­tures weren’t ex­actly con­vinc­ing out wide – where they were of­ten breached – they more than made up for that with their at­ti­tude on the scram­ble.

But that didn’t ex­actly de­ter the vis­i­tors, whose first try – by out­side cen­tre Henry Cha­vancy – came from the sim­plic­ity of work­ing the ball wide and chip­ping the ad­vanc­ing de­fence, with Cha­vancy knock­ing poor Jesse Kriel into next week for re­place­ment scrum half Bap­tiste Serin’s try.

Of course, in such a devel­op­men­tal team, the play­ers also had the spot­light on them – some from last sea­son and the rest from those mak­ing their de­buts for South Africa.

Of last year’s vin­tage, Marx, fly half El­ton Jan­tjies and Franco Mostert put their hands up, with Cronjé the pick of a debu­tants list that in­cluded Ray­mond Rhule, Skosan and An­dries Coet­zee.

With the ex­cep­tion of those two stray line-outs in the first half, Marx was pace and power personified, and showed a dis­tribu­tive side to him, giv­ing the as­sist that put Kriel away for the open­ing try of the match.

Jan­tjies kicked out once on the full early in the game, but af­ter that he was his usual com­mand­ing self, di­rect­ing traf­fic with au­thor­ity and kick­ing well out of hand and at poles, kick­ing all of his kicks at goal and stand­ing his ground in de­fence.

The in­dus­tri­ous Mostert’s se­lec­tion ahead of Pi­eter-Steph du Toit may well have been a mas­ter­stroke – this guy is sim­ple: he makes his tack­les, gets up off the floor quickly and avails him­self for ev­ery carry.

Cronjé was all com­po­sure with his dis­tri­bu­tion and capped his de­but with a try, while all the other debu­tants bris­tled with in­tent but didn’t quite have a sim­i­lar in­flu­ence.

PHOTO: SYD­NEY SESHIBEDI / GALLO IM­AGES

PUSH­ING THROUGH Franco Mostert of the Spring­boks is tack­led dur­ing the test against France at Lof­tus Vers­feld yes­ter­day

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