Jean de Villiers and Victor Matfield (Gallo Images)
Cape Town - Sport24’s Herman Mostert highlights FIVE talking points following the Springboks’ 46-6 Rugby World Cup win over Samoa in Birmingham.
1. Bok skipper says goodbye
Springbok captain Jean de Villiers’s Rugby World Cup curse struck again when he injured his jaw in the match at Villa Park.
He announced his retirement from international rugby on Sunday when it was confirmed that he had fractured his jaw and was ruled out for the tournament.
De Villiers has had terrible luck with injuries at Rugby World Cups, but he can at least hold his head high after leading his team to a commanding 46-6 win.
Victor Matfield is now likely to take the captain's armband for the remainder of the tournament.
2. Scrum issues for Boks
The Springbok scrum didn’t fire on all cylinders on Saturday, with tighthead prop Jannie du Plessis in particular struggling to stamp his authority. Things improved when Du Plessis was replaced by Frans Malherbe in the 54th minute.
Loosehead Tendai Mtawarira should also take part of the blame, as the Bok scrum looked better with Malherbe and Trevor Nyakane anchoring the front row.
3. Fourie du Preez added much-needed spark
This writer’s man-of-the-match added some much-needed spark to the Bok backline.
The veteran scrumhalf gave the Boks key direction and his tactical kicking and speedy passing allowed Handre Pollard to thrive.
A fit Du Preez should always start ahead of Ruan Pienaar.
4. Samoan bruisers
Tests against the hard-tackling Samoans are always bruising encounters.
Who will ever forget the quarter-final in 1995 when several Springboks were laid low by some hefty, and often illegal hits from the Samoans, with Andre Joubert’s broken hand almost ruling the fullback out of the tournament.
The Samoans have always been ‘borderline’ with the legality of their tackles and while they behaved better in that regard on Saturday, the Boks did not emerge from the contest completely unscathed.
Apart from De Villiers’s tournament-ending injury, there is also doubt over the other midfielders - Jesse Kriel and Damian de Allende.
Kriel copped a boot in the face, while De Allende injured his knee.
Other players who suffered injuries include Du Plessis (knee), Du Preez (ribs) and Victor Matfield (hamstring).
5. Another Bok pitch invader
South Africa’s impressive performance was somewhat soured by a Bok fan invading the pitch in the dying moments of the match.
In an event not dissimilar to the infamous “Piet van Zyl” incident at Kings Park in 2002, the fan ran on and started pushing Samoan players on the deck.
Duane Vermeulen quickly grabbed at his collar to try to thwart his intentions, but he escaped the big No 8’s clutches before being finally tossed to the ground by one of the Samoan players.
It’s silly that one fan can give the rest of the world negative perceptions about South Africans and Matfield was right to condemn the incident afterwards.
“You can’t blame all the fans - it’s one bloke who did a stupid thing. Normally our fans are fantastic... they stay off the pitch and support the team in the right way.”