France will fire back – Noves
Some Boks shined in new gameplan, while Les Bleus capitulated
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 PIVOTAL DISPLAY
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.
TO THE MARX!
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.
ON TO THE FIELD
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.