Boks boosted by big win

2008-08-10 00:00

JOHANNESBURG — South Africa’s 63-9 rout of Argentina was a confidence booster for the Tri-Nations clash with the All Blacks next weekend, coach Peter de Villiers said.

De Villiers said the win, which featured nine tries without reply, was useful, but facing New Zealand in Cape Town on Saturday would be an entirely different matter.

“The win helps to build our confidence, which is a great thing and we will enjoy the win, there are no buts about it,” De Villiers said.

“We know what a step up next week against the All Blacks will be and we have the ability to make that step,” he told a news conference.

“We know the first half was not good, but it is always good to see a team go out again, do it right and use their opportunities.”

South Africa were trailing 9-0 until the 36th minute.

Springbok captain Victor Matfield felt the victory had its foundations in the set-pieces.

“Argentina were very physical at the breakdown points, but we were happy with the way we went in the lineouts and scrums.

“Argentina uses a lot of lineout drives, but with the sacking rule coming in with the ELVs (experimental law variations), it made it very difficult for them,” Matfield said.

Sacking refers to the ELV allowing teams to collapse a rolling maul, which was a key element of the Pumas’ game at the World Cup where they finished third after losing their semi-final to champions South Africa.

Argentina, with only three Test matches since the World Cup, has not previously played under the ELVs.

Replacement flanker Joe van Niekerk, who celebrated his 50th Test with two tries in two minutes immediately after coming on to the field, said he was delighted.

“It was unbelievable just to get on the field for the 50th time because it’s been a long road. I wasn’t really thinking too much once I was on the field, I was just running to the ball,” the 28-year-old said.

The Springboks were in early trouble, trailing 9-0 to three Felipe Contepomi penalties until the 36th minute, when centre Jean de Villiers burst clear from the halfway line and set up midfield partner Adrian Jacobs for the first try.

That score opened the floodgates as the pace and imagination of the Springboks laid bare the Pumas defence, while flyhalf Butch James converted all nine tries.

Wing JP Pietersen also scored twice, slicing through a gap in the 50th minute and then scoring again after chasing down his own grubber kick in injury time.

A hard-hitting Springbok loose trio enjoyed a field day. Number eight Pierre Spies showed great pace to gather a kick ahead by Pietersen and score, Juan Smith was always a threat running with ball in hand, and Luke Watson showed top-class support play.

Hooker Bismarck du Plessis and Pietersen sealed a convincing hammering with tries in the closing stages.

South Africa’s top-class performance — in the end — was a fitting 90th birthday tribute to former president Nelson Mandela.

Scorers:

South Africa — Tries: Adrian Jacobs, Jongi Nokwe, Pierre Spies, JP Pietersen (2), Fourie du Preez, Joe van Niekerk (2), Bismarck du Plessis. Conversions: Butch James (9).

Argentina — Penalties: Felipe Contepomi (3).

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