De Jongh stars in Bok thriller

2010-06-05 21:27

Comment: Rob Houwing, Sport24 chief writer

Cape Town – Juan de Jongh has just added himself quite handily to the cause of Springbok backline depth.

The young Stormers/Western Province centre was one of the new stars to shine most brightly as an experimental Springbok XV pulled out just enough stops to pip Wales by three points in a rousing, high-scoring Test at the Millennium Stadium on Saturday.

This dingdong match reminded one a little of a 2004 meeting between these sides at the same venue, although both were much nearer full strength then and John Smit, Victor Matfield and Joe van Niekerk started it, as they again did among some rather greener teammates six years on.

On that occasion, the Boks scored four tries to three and held out for a 38-36 scoreline; here it was three tries all - although Wales got two of theirs in the last seven minutes - and South Africa kept their composure for a 34-31 result.

When you consider the World Cup champions’ scrambled preparation for this encounter, including some unsettling late selection shakeups, and the fact that several of them had just come off a Super 14 final, just beating a fired-up Welsh combo before 60 000 of their passionately choral faithful was a good outcome.

We may only know further down the line whether this questionable exercise will have dug damagingly into the game-time “overdraft” of certain players, but give the Boks their collective due: they were up for it, warts and all, despite the various elements of adversity.

The truth was that they had to be, for Wales spent generous periods on the front foot at either end of the game with the Boks handsomely bossing the middle stretches and not surrendering composure even as they went a shock 16-3 behind in the 21st minute.

And a couple of well-established franchise combinations, I felt, proved pivotal for South Africa as the home fire was narrowly doused.
One was the midfield alliance between De Jongh, making his maiden run-on in green and gold, and his street-wise Stormers colleague Jaque Fourie, and the other the all-Bulls pairing in the second row of Matfield and Danie Rossouw.

The lock combo excelling was important, because the Springbok scrum found itself under slightly worrying pressure at times and their lineout presence went a long way to neutralising that disadvantage – Wales ever more gradually got the collywobbles at lineout time.

Matfield and Rossouw were industrious in the general exchanges, too, with the former making some important tackles and latter doing some effective ball-carrying.

One Rossouw off-load on the drive led to a try for Dewald Potgieter, who was really warming to Test rugby at flank before going off nursing what looked like a side or rib complaint late in the third quarter.

But behind the boiler room the De Jongh-Fourie firm certainly played their part as well, the outside centre’s mere seasoned presence and trusty organisational skills making life that much more agreeable for De Jongh at his international baptism.

The plucky little No 12 was clattered into unceremoniously by his opposite number, the brawny British and Irish Lions star Jamie Roberts, early in the match, but there was no way he was going to let it unnerve him.

De Jongh had shown throughout the Super 14 that the old-fashioned, go-in-low tackling technique still has its rewards, and in Cardiff he only underlined it, keeping Roberts -- who is some 20kg his physical superior -- and other Welsh marauders admirably in check.

But just as encouragingly, De Jongh’s silky attacking skills came to the fore as well.

Just short of the hour mark, he scored the kind of solo try he had registered only a fortnight earlier in the Super 14 semi-final against the Waratahs, his stepping ability reducing the defence to ruin as the Boks moved into a powerful 31-19 advantage before a spot of complacency -- and perhaps fatigue in some cases -- gave them a few grey hairs near the finish.

The nice thing about De Jongh, remember, is that he can wear No 13 with equal aplomb and could feasibly serve his country on the wing should it be deemed either necessary or desirable.

So he was a big beneficiary from this assignment.

Another to do his stocks no harm was Ruan Pienaar at flyhalf. He produced some magical passes on occasion, was suitably authoritative with his boot even if not quite to the “Morne Steyn” extent, and looked confident and unflustered for a player who has had his positional tribulations in recent times.

Frans Steyn was competent in the last line of defence, where his big frame came in handy in some stressful defensive situations and his ability to weigh in with the odd long-range penalty was again a productive tool.

This was certainly no picture-perfect Bok display, as you might have suspected for so early in the Test season, with once-off, try-conceding howlers from the likes of captain Smit and later the still-cold substitute Zane Kirchner, and games of rather fitful excellence from Ricky Januarie at scrumhalf and Van Niekerk among the loose forwards.

But at least the Boks weren’t tripped at their unorthodox first hurdle of 2010, and they deserve credit for that …


  • Jaco - 2010-06-05 23:42

    Go Bokke !! You did us very proud and with so little time to sort out game plans, congrats !!!!

  • jeff - 2010-06-06 00:33

    Plucky win for the Boks! Surely a bit of a concern must be John Smit's form at present.He was slow and cumbersome, almost a passenger at times.Great performances from the likes of Rossouw, BJ Botha,Pienaar, de Jongh,Fourie and Matfield though!

  • Springbok Fan - 2010-06-06 05:55

    Rossow, Matfield and Potgieter and De Jong had an outstanding game. Smit, Kankowski, Joe, BJ and January had a really bad game. The much vaunted Pienaar still cant kick and the other Stormers loosie were nowhere to be seen. I dont see any changes to the Springbok A side Potgieter certainely did enough to put up his hand.

  • Qiuz - 2010-06-06 07:20

    Two days ago some serious complaints were lodge regarding the inclusion of De Jongh. Will these honourable gentlemen please come forward and give credit where it is due. WELL DONE De Jongh

  • PIET - 2010-06-06 07:32

    If SA was to win the world cup in 2011,Mr De Villiers must please consider the following side:- 15) Aplon;14)/11) Habana;Van der Heever 12)/13) Fourie;De Jong 10)Steyn;9) Pienaar(Du Preez).... 1/3) Steenkamp/CJ 2) Smit 4)/5) Matfield Botha 6)/7) Botes Smith 8) Spies Bench:- JP;De Villiers;Bekker;Hougard;BJ;F.Steyn,Stegman

  • hiedie - 2010-06-06 07:33

    Wel gedaan manne !!....De Jongh jou doring !!!...JY WAS UITSTEKEND !!!!!...

  • BALSAK(alias Blue Bul Hater) - 2010-06-06 07:37

    What a player?? I don't know, what is going to happen to Wynand Olivier, because Jean De Villiers is also coming back. Fourie and De Jong is currently a MUST for the springbok A side, and when de villiers return, De Jongh will move to the bench!! And Wynand Olivier????

  • Marius - 2010-06-06 07:48

    Well done Bokke!

  • Fred - 2010-06-06 07:54

    Splended!!!Throughbred champions to rise above all critisme show their senority in all facets of the game...VIVA Boks!!!Viva !!!Peter!!!Viva!!!

  • Molefe - 2010-06-06 08:58

    Reading this article I cannot help but feel that Mr. Houwing watched a different game that me. I thought thta Ruan Pienaar was really poor, kicking some balls just for the sake of getting rid of them. January was even worse, Francois Louw, BJ Botha and Joe van Niekerk might as well just not have pitched. The one point of light in the whole game was Danie Rossouw, Dewaldt Potgieter and Juan de Jong. I am not impressed at all! There was no game plan, no constructive play, nothing. Any ball that got to January or Pienaar (Or should that be Fatboy and Baienaar) was just kicked away mindlessly. Making the Welsh number 15 look a LOT better than he actually is!

  • BC - 2010-06-06 10:21

    Potgieter,De Jongh and Matfield were the outstanding players whilst January, Smit were poor. Smit is an outstanding leader but you have to be the player as well to be in the bok side and he looks so slow in the loose. Matfield is also a good leader and can play up to the required standard. I would be surprised if January even gets a Stormers contract next year, he is so poor now it's becomming embarrassing. Looks like a slow-mo player.

  • @Balsak - 2010-06-06 11:33

    No problem with de Villiers' comeback. Move de Jongh for the 2010 Currie Cup to wing. He will easely outplay any wing in South Africa. And that includes near has-been Habana

  • stompies - 2010-06-06 12:58

    Wat de hel het de jongh die hele super 14 en gister gedoen om al die lofprysing te verdien! Twee swaweltjies maak nie 'n somer nie. Weer 'n klomp spindokters wat iemand in die span in probeer skryf. WTF!

  • @Stompies - 2010-06-06 16:48

    Meer as Mej Olivier van die Bulls!

  • The Wonderer - 2010-06-06 21:39

    How come wasn't Jean de Villiers called up at centre? He was less than an hour's flight away in Ireland and could've joined the team ASAP. Speaking of Ireland, the Boks need to pick centres who can handle O'Driscoll in November. Can De Jongh do that? Jean can't manage that so if De Jongh can then keep him in. Anyone think he can do it better than Jean?

  • MYSTER - 2010-06-07 08:21


  • Bok beflok! - 2010-06-07 08:34

    @Stompies: Hou op om met 'n blou oog rugby te kyk! De Jongh het hom bewys en dis 'n feit. Stem egter saam met die res. Dit het nie te goed gelyk nie. Smit is 'n bekommernis wat nog te se van Januarie en Pienaar. Potgieter het hom ook goed van sy taak gekwyt. Wel gedaan aan die Bokke. Kom ons hoop P Divvy kies die beste en sterkse span die naweek.

  • Wouter - 2010-06-07 08:44

    The Boks played very well to a digree considering the fact that they only had 1 week to get ready for the Wales test. Matfield, Danie Rossouw, Dewalt Potgieter, Jean de Jong, Louw played really really good to me they out perfomed the opposite numbers. BJ Botha, CJ van der Linde and Joe van Niekerk doesn't even belong in the Bok team. I just hope that De Villiers puts Wynand Olivier in the Bok A side. Olivier along with Jaco Pretorius outplayed Jaque Fourie & De Jongh in the Super14 Final

  • Skeletor1 - 2010-06-07 09:00

    @Qiuz. I, as a Bulls supporter, must admit that I was one of theguys that did not 'like' De Jongh. But damn he had a good game. I still think he can better his defence but for now he would be my chioce at 12. As for EJ, please stormers admit that he needs to be returned to your CC team. I am just lucky not to be a selector, difficult choices to be made because remember there is a lot of players that had a very good S14 that still want to prove themselves. Give them all a chance before the Tri Nations. Go Bokke!!

  • Andre - 2010-06-07 11:18

    I think we should be happy that we have so much depth in so many positions. remember before the 2011 World Cup there is still a lot of rugby to be played so any of the players can get injured, look at New Zealand they have lot of worries regarding injuries so no need to quibble about what are we going to do with Wynand or Jean de Villiers, there will be place for all. I would just like it if the selectors make up there mind about fly half, according to me Morne is currently in the saddle and the next best on S14 form was Peter Grant and again here what if Morne get injured? We should be sure about who to fall back on.

  • Dronkie - 2010-06-07 11:26

    At least sal De Jongh vi AD Jacobs uit die sqaud uit hou en Aplon vir Earl Rose....Goeie spelers was hulle posisies verdien....Nou wonder ek net oor Chilly Boy - Badisa Maku speel 10 keer beter....

  • Lefty - 2010-06-07 11:27

    De Jong het homself bewys , wat gaan ons doen wanneer Juan De Villiers terug is saam met Fourie . Die beste senter paar ter wereld ? Bench ons hom ? Ons sal beter moet speel teen die Franse Saterdag , en ons sterkste span moet speel .Hulle is vuilgatte en dit is vir ons bewys in die wedstryd laas jaar teen die bokke . Wel Gedaan BOKKE !!!

  • StuartW - 2010-06-07 12:19

    @Skeletor1, I also feel we should drop EJ to the CC, but as the water boy....we have 2 great other scrummies to play. Eending is verseker, Suid Afrikaanse rugby lyk gesond. Ons het weer diepte in alle posisies. Ons moet net die regte stutte kies...Ek sal vir De Jongh en vir Wynand op die bench sit, albei goeie spelers. Jy kan altyd vir Jean of Jacque vleuel toe skuif

  • Joe - 2010-06-07 12:46

    @ Thabang... you must have been watching a different game or the wrong Louw. BJ scrummed inwards, CJ had his hand on the ground during scrumtime and Skeletor 1 tackling is what de jongh brought back to rugby..around the ankles ask steroid Spies.. he couldnt run without his feet. He consistently brought down Roberts giving away 20 odd kilo's and almost 8inches i height !

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