The Lowvelder

42 367 voices lift Boks to victory

- Mark Kinnear

MBOMBELA- The Springboks fed off the energy of the 42 367 spectators at Mbombela Stadium on Saturday.

This was one of the factors that contribute­d to the 26-10 victory over the All Blacks in a Castle Lager Rugby Championsh­ip match.

Since the South African team arrived in the Lowveld on Sunday July 24, its residents had been gripped by greenand-gold fever. This fever hit its peak at Mbombela Stadium on Saturday. A sea of green and gold greeted the national team, backed by a noise level not experience­d at the venue before.

“Running out and hearing people cheering like that - it drives us as a team. That’s what Jacques [Nienaber] always reminds us: ‘It’s not about me.’ If I make a mistake, I must keep on going, because it’s about the people who are coming each and every time to watch us play.

“I hope we made them proud today, because they definitely got us going from the anthem onwards,” said the South

African captain, Siya Kolisi, in the postmatch press conference.

Coach Jacques Nienaber also had praise for the people of the Lowveld.

“The support we received was outstandin­g. The rendition of ‘Nkosi

Sikelel’ iAfrika’ was the most incredible I have ever heard. It was a gooseflesh moment. Listening to the passion with which the national anthem was sung tonight lifted the players. I can only praise the people of Mbombela for their support," said Nienaber.

The 80 minutes of action that followed the anthem was the best the Springboks have played since the 2019 Rugby World Cup final.

They were ruthless in the execution of their game plan and battered the All Blacks into submission.

The New Zealanders were outplayed in every department.

South Africa were solid in the set pieces. But the key to the win was an exceptiona­l defence that frustrated the All Blacks.

The visitors made a plethora of unforced errors. The home team regained territory off the set pieces.

The frustrated New Zealand team could not stamp their authority on the game as the clock ticked on.

The All Blacks were dismal and could not match the pace and precision of the Boks’ game.

The Boks were at their best.

The All Blacks entered the Bok 22 for only the second time in the match in the

53rd minute. The first was from the kick-off. They conceded a penalty within seconds and were again driven back into their own half by Pollard’s kick.

Two minutes later, their third foray into the home 22 also ended with a penalty transgress­ion.

The New Zealanders conceded

12 penalties to South Africa’s seven.

The home team stuck to the kicking game for which the Boks are known. They did it effectivel­y and with precision.

The Springboks had 55% of the possession.

New Zealand conceded 17 turnovers to South Africa’s 14.

Bok number 8, Jasper Wiese, put in a tremendous performanc­e. He gained 22m of territory in 11 carries and made 13 tackles.

The man of the match, Malcolm Marx, who won his 50th Bok cap, gained 24m in eight carries and made six tackles.

Kwagga Smith, who first played rugby barefoot on the fields of Laerskool Lydenburg, had a huge impact on the match in the 35min he was on the field. He made 6m in four carries, made five tackles and won a turnover.

Other stats

Rucks lost

• SA: 2

• NZ: 6.

Tackles made

• SA: 121

• NZ: 117.

With 13 months to go before the 2023 Rugby World Cup in France, the Springboks are in a good place, but are determined to lift their standard of play.

“We are not a finished product yet. We want to win every game, but for us it’s also about improving with every game. We have made a step up since the Wales series, but we need to continue building,” said Nienaber.

• According to a SA Rugby media release, Faf de Klerk has been placed on a “return to play protocol” after suffering concussion in the team’s 26-10 victory against New Zealand last week. He should be fit for the match against Australia in Sydney on Saturday September 3.

• Kurt-Lee Arendse was handed a fourweek suspension for a dangerous tackle against New Zealand, which will only see him cleared to return to action on September 18.

 ?? > Photo: Colourspor­t / Johan Orton ?? Lood de Jager dominated the line-outs.
> Photo: Colourspor­t / Johan Orton Lood de Jager dominated the line-outs.
 ?? > Photo: Kaptured Concepts ?? Faf de Klerk.
> Photo: Kaptured Concepts Faf de Klerk.
 ?? ?? Damien Willemse on the attack.
> Photo: Colourspor­t / Johan Orton
Damien Willemse on the attack. > Photo: Colourspor­t / Johan Orton

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