Cape Town - Despite an unconvincing 22-6
victory over Italy at the weekend, the Springboks will take a few positives
from the clash in Padova.
It was a hard fought win against a highly
motivated Azzurri, who matched the Springboks physically and were in the
contest midway through the second half.
The Boks held a slender 8-6 lead before
several substitutions made by coach Heyneke Meyer appeared to swing the game in
South Africa’s favour.
Sport24 has highlighted FIVE talking points
from the weekend's match:
1. Bok scrum
The Springbok scrum performed better than
expected against a much feared Italian front row. Trevor Nyakane performed
remarkably well against highly rated Martin Castrogiovanni, while Coenie
Oosthuizen had one of his better outings as a tighthead prop.
However, there were still a number of
traumatic scrums that saw the Boks penalised and move backwards glaringly. It
was also nice to see a well deserved Bok debut for Lions prop Julian
Redelinghuys, but replacing Nyakane with Gurthro Steenkamp was perhaps not the
Steenkamp’s days as a Springbok may be
numbered, as ex-Bok prop Ollie le Roux noted on Twitter during the match: “1st
time we get scrummed Gurthro at 1. He is the weak link in Bok scrum.”
2. Springbok substitutions
As was the case in the game against
Australia at Newlands earlier in the year, a few Springbok ‘super subs’ made a
big difference in helping the team seal victory late in the second half. The
game was still on a knife-edge midway through the second period, with the Boks
holding a slender 8-6 advantage.
Willie le Roux and Nizaam Carr, in
particular, played a big part in adding spark to a somewhat lacklustre
Springbok attack. Carr made an immediate impact when his sniping break and
spectacular off-load set up a try for scrumhalf Cobus Reinach.
Le Roux added some much needed X-factor at
the back. Bryan Habana’s try after hooter was started by Le Roux who showed
brilliant vision to attack from deep inside his own half, before off-loading to
Handre Pollard, who also came on as a second half substitute. Pollard broke
through the Italian defence before setting Habana away for his 57th Test try.
3. Patience and composure on attack
The Springboks had several attacking forays
into the Italian 22m area but left the red zone empty handed on a number of
occasions. A little more patience on attack, especially in the first half,
would have put the game to bed much earlier.
On 27 minutes, JP Pietersen failed to pick
up a long skip-pass from Lambie with the tryline begging. This could have seen
the Boks take a handy 15-3 lead.
A few minutes later, a brilliant break from
Goosen put the Boks back on attack inside the red zone, before a hasty forward
pass from Oosthuizen to Reinach scuppered another promising scenario. What could
easily have been a 20-3 lead at the break, turned into a meagre 8-6 advantage.
4. Bok standout
Scrumhalf Cobus Reinach was named the
official man-of-the-match, and while he had an adequate game which included
finishing off a spectacular try, Sport24 felt Eben Etzebeth was worthy of
receiving the best player award.
Etzebeth produced one of his most forceful
showings of the year and is now well and truly over the ankle injury which saw
him sidelined for the large parts of the season.
Etzebeth's performance was also fitting on
a day legendary second rower Bakkies Botha announced his retirement from Test
5. Boxes ticked
While the win over Italy in Padova was less
than spectacular, coach Heyneke Meyer will feel more satisfied with the depth
in a few key positions.
Johan Goosen, who replaced regular fullback
Willie le Roux, showed promise from the back, Nizaam Carr was a revelation at
flank, while Trevor Nyakane's scrummaging was a welcome highlight.
Like the coach said afterwards: "We
ticked a lot of boxes in this match."