Cape Town - Lions flyhalf Marnitz Boshoff
led the restricted South African charge with a classy late cameo for the
Barbarians as they were held off 40-36 by Australia in a Twickenham thriller on
In doing so he ticked boxes for temperament
and “bouncebackability” after the acute disappointment he would have felt only
a week earlier as his unusually wayward place-kicking in the early summer
south-easter contributed to his province being pipped 19-16 by hosts WP in the
Currie Cup final at Newlands.
Here the 25-year-old from Nelspruit, who has
mostly been inspirational in both Super Rugby and the domestic competition when
available this year, restored normal personal service as he made the very most
of his mere 12 minutes off the bench near the end of the time-honoured festival
Boshoff, already a one-cap Springbok, got
onto the park after coach John Kirwan - who had picked a very New
Zealand-centric starting XV - hauled off No 10 Colin Slade in the final
The All Black had certainly put up a decent
showing himself with his cheeky dinks and other tricks, but the one thing
Boshoff did when belatedly introduced to the channel was bring a sense of
urgency and directness that rubbed off well on his outside backs.
It had seemed the BaaBaas had finally run
out of puff when Boshoff took up his role as the Wallabies, operating under
Michael Cheika’s coaching tutelage for the first time, were a handsome 40-22
Instead the BaaBaas got an admirable and
concerted second wind, thanks in no small measure to Boshoff, paired up with a
compatriot scrumhalf and fellow-sub in Sarel Pretorius, taking firm ownership
of the berth.
First he threw out a crisp, authoritative
left-to-right pass to help create crucial space for a popular try beneath the
posts to that quirky cult figure Nick Cummins, the predatory “Honey Badger” on
the left wing who has a large army of fuzzy wig-wearing fans wherever he
travels in the world.
But the cosmopolitan side weren’t done yet,
as shortly afterwards Cummins himself orchestrated a sizzling breakout from
about 55-60 metres, feeding an infield pass to Boshoff who streaked away with
no lack of gas for a touchdown of his own.
Suddenly there were only four points in it
and the BaaBaas kept hammering away right into the 84th minute to
try to orchestrate a fairytale comeback triumph.
In those dying stages, both Boshoff and
Pretorius - the blond Cheetahs favourite’s style of play is tailor-made for a
fast and loose environment - were very constructive, even if their enterprise
was not necessarily appreciated to the fullest extent by the English television
commentary team of Stuart Barnes and company.
Perhaps it was excusable because Boshoff,
especially, is a reasonably new star on the first-class rugby block in 2014 and
not yet a household face in the northern hemisphere; that could lie a bit
further up the road.
Given game time from the third quarter
onward, open-side flanker Heinrich Brussow also grew nicely into the contest;
he was penalised once at the breakdown by Jaco Peyper but made some energetic
tackles and got involved in some linking play during the BaaBaas’ enormous rally.
South Africans, and especially those
partial to the Sharks, watching the game would also have got some pleasure out
of the industry of another second-half impact substitute, the barrelling
still-teenage loosehead prop Thomas du Toit, who won two fine turnovers.
The BaaBaas might have been better served
by starting with Du Toit rather than his recent franchise colleague Matt
Stevens, who has struggled for best form in the Currie Cup.
But maybe the Durban-born England veteran’s
right to the No 1 jersey at the outset was at least partly influenced by his
long-time familiarity to the Twickenham faithful - he is certainly more of a
“name” internationally at this point.
Ironically the only South African to start
the value-for-money occasion, Bok centre Juan de Jongh - who no longer seems
in favour at all with Heyneke Meyer - struggled to really impose himself.
He did have one golden chance to streak
away for a possible intercept try from a ropey Quade Cooper pass, but
agonisingly could not hold on.
Still, it was arguably asking a bit much to
expect him to take the game by storm, given the immense mental and physical
effort he had put in as captain of the eventual Currie Cup champions right up
to a few days ago.
our chief writer on Twitter: @RobHouwing