France will fire back – Noves

Some Boks shined in new gameplan, while Les Bleus ca­pit­u­lated

The Star Early Edition - - SPORT -

RUGBY writer VATA NGOB­ENI looks at the five pos­i­tives the Spring­boks can take out from the first Test be­tween South Africa and France which con­trib­uted im­mensely to their 37-14 win at Lof­tus Vers­feld on Satur­day.


Call it the hand of Bren­dan Ven­ter or the at­ti­tude of the play­ers but it was a much im­proved col­lec­tive ef­fort from the Boks. Big up to the likes of Ray­mond Rhule and Court­nall Skosan for prov­ing their de­trac­tors wrong. Just fix the one-on-one tack­les out wide and this could be one of the best de­fen­sive sys­tems in the world.


A very classy per­for­mance with an even bet­ter kick­ing dis­play, Elton Jantjies not only con­ducted pro­ceed­ings well on at­tack, it was his clever chip and cross kicks that added some lively and ex­cit­ing vari­a­tion to the Boks at­tack­ing arse­nal. Jantjies also made his tack­les stick and didn’t miss a sin­gle kick at goal.


The Spring­boks have found their Bis­marck! He is big, car­ries well and bumps off ev­ery­one in his way but most im­por­tantly he can pass. Al­though Mal­colm Marx found his jumpers with ease in the line-out, pin-point ac­cu­racy with his throws can be im­proved.


The bench was able to do ex­actly what Al­lis­ter Coet­zee would have wanted of them – in­ject life and the killer blow to the game. While the flu­id­ity of their im­pact took longer than it should have, the en­ergy brought on by the likes of Fran­cois Hougaard, Fran­cois Steyn, Steven Kit­shoff, Jean-Luc du Preez, Pi­eterSteph du Toit and Dil­lyn Lleyds was enough to seal the game for the Boks.


It was a plea­sure see­ing the Boks line-out func­tion op­ti­mally and be able to gen­er­ate some much needed pos­ses­sion for the rolling maul. But it was Eben Etze­beth’s con­test­ing and his two cru­cial li­ne­outs steals on the edge of the Boks try-line, that high­lighted the strides the team has made in im­prov­ing on one of their strengths.

Vet­er­ans to storm Dur­ban

IT IS in the emo­tion­ally arous­ing lyrics of the French na­tional an­them, La Mar­seil­laise, that the Spring­boks will fully ap­pre­ci­ate the back­lash that awaits them ahead of the sec­ond Test at King’s Park on Satur­day.

“To arms, ci­ti­zens. Form your bat­tal­ions. Let’s march, let’s march. Let an im­pure blood soak our fields!” it cries out.

And with that the French will march to Dur­ban, vow­ing to come out fir­ing and re­store some pride in their per­for­mance, which was found want­ing against the Spring­boks in their 37-14 loss at Lof­tus Vers­feld on Satur­day.

The French failed to keep up with the pace of the game but were also beaten by the fe­roc­ity with which the Spring­boks played the game and the dom­i­nance they en­joyed in most facets of play.

“We are go­ing to have a look at the good and the bad from this game and we will have to use the com­ing week to im­prove on those ar­eas and try to get bet­ter,” said France cap­tain Yoann Maestri.

And so the Boks should ex­pect a back­lash as Les Bleus will see at least six of their front­line stars re­turn to the team after spend­ing last week nurs­ing the bumps and bruises from a de­mand­ing Top 14 fi­nal be­tween Cler­mont and Toulon.

With the quick turn­around time from play­ing in their do­mes­tic fi­nal to pre­par­ing ad­e­quately for the open­ing Test of the se­ries, France deemed it sen­si­ble to rest their top play­ers and se­lect a newlook side that in­cluded 11 changes from that which played in their last in­ter­na­tional against Wales in the Six Na­tions. Reg­u­lar cap­tain and hooker Guil­hein Guirado, prop Xavier Chiocci, lock Arthur Itur­ria, fly­half Fran­cois Trin­hDuc, cen­tre Damian Pe­naud, lock Ro­main Taofifenua and South African-born full­back Scott Sped­ding are all set to re­turn.

By French ad­mis­sion, the Boks were the bet­ter side in their bat­tle in the cap­i­tal but the north­ern hemi­sphere out­fit will tar­get the sec­ond Test as their last chance to re­store par­ity in the se­ries.

France coach Guy Noves con­ceded as much and promised there would be con­se­quences for cer­tain in­di­vid­u­als who didn’t front up at Lof­tus. “We were dom­i­nated phys­i­cally as in­di­vid­u­als and as a col­lec­tive. We failed to adapt to the ath­leti­cism of the Spring­boks and that made it dif­fi­cult for us to play our type of rugby,” said Noves.

“We will look at the game again and see where we went wrong but we must do it quickly ahead of the next Test. There are in­di­vid­u­als who could re­spond well to this but we must also look at the qual­ity of the op­po­si­tion that we will be play­ing.”


HOOKER ON THE MOVE: Mal­colm Marx had a stand out per­for­mance for the Spring­boks on Satur­day against the French and was ad­judged the Man of the Match for his im­pact.

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