Boks’ final date with Samoa

2013-06-17 00:00

THE Springboks and Samoa will provide a fitting if bruising finale to the Incoming Series when they bump each other at Loftus on Saturday evening.

The Boks, beating Scotland 30-17, and Samoa, with an upset 39-10 thumping of Italy, set up their final date at Nelspruit’s Mbombela Stadium at the weekend.

While South Africa and Samoa have been unbeaten over the past fortnight, third-placed Scotland and Italy, fourth on the log, have lost both their Tests and they will meet in the third-place play-off in Pretoria. This means that all four teams will have played different opposition during the three-week tournament.

The Springboks, on the evidence of Saturday night’s limp showing and a flattering scoreline, will have their hands full against the tough Samoans.

The South Africans were trailing 17-6 four minutes into the second half and a massive Test upset — and Scotland’s first win over the Boks in South Africa — was looming.

But Scotland, fired-up and playing on the edge of the law in frustrating and rattling the Springboks, finally overstepped the boundaries and were harshly punished by French referee Roman Poite. First he awarded the Springboks a penalty try in the 48th minute after the Scots collapsed a driving maul (17-13) and then three minutes later, on the advice of South African television referee Gerrie Coetzee, he yellow-carded lock Jim Hamilton for attacking the face of South African lock Eben Etzebeth.

The Boks, against 14 men, maintained the pressure and a try by centre JJ Engelbrecht, with Willie le Roux creating the opening, took the Boks ahead 20-17 entering the final quarter.

Replacement flyhalf Pat Lambie kicked a pressure penalty with six minutes remaining to take the Boks six points clear (23-17) and young centre Jan Serfontein, also coming off the bench, spun out of a couple of tackles to score his first try for South Africa in the final move of the game (30-17).

The Springboks had ended a poor performance on a positive note, but for long periods they were listless and made to look decidedly ordinary by an exceptionally courageous but depleted, inexperienced Scotland.

The Scots, beaten by Samoa the previous week, were expected to be little more than cannon fodder for the Springboks. But the South Africans, perhaps believing their own press, were dreadful in the first half, lacking intensity and accuracy, allowing the Scots to dominate the breakdown and making a hash of their lineout calls in the noisy stadium.

The Boks’ lack of commitment and urgency also saw them fall off a number of tackles while their alignment in defence was shoddy. Scotland centre Matt Scott and scrumhalf Greig Laidlaw were prominent in the first half while backrower Alasdair Strokosch, by means fair and foul, made a nuisance of himself at the rucks and mauls.

The Scots scored two tries — the first by Scott and the second by wing Tommy Seymour after the referee ignored the TMO’s advice that it had involved obstruction — inside the first 44 minutes for their 11-point lead before the Springboks, finally finding an ally in Poite, launched their revival.

The Scots were furious with the match officials and the part that they played in their defeat, but they can have few complaints.

They clearly went into the game to spoil and niggle the South Africans and they succeeded beyond their wildest dreams.

Not only did they successfully slow down the Boks’ ball at the breakdown, but they camped off-side at the breakdown and they were constantly guilty of obstruction and taking out players off the ball.

They were finally hoist by their own petard, but not before they had made a right mess of the Springboks’ efforts to pick up where they left off at King’s Park a week ago and play some rugby.

Samoa were too good for Italy on the day, easily beating them 39-10 after leading 10-3 at the break.

The Azzurri, like Scotland last week, could not match the powerful running of the Samoans, their muscle at the breakdowns and their counter-attacking, conceding five tries before earning a late penalty try.

SCORERS

South Africa 30 (6) – Tries: Penalty try, JJ Engelbrecht, Jan Serfontein. Conversions: Mornè Steyn (2), Pat Lambie. Penalties: Steyn (2), Lambie. Scotland 17(10) – Tries: Matt Scott, Alex Dunbar. Conversions: Greig Laidlaw (2). Penalty: Laidlaw.

Samoa 39 (10) – Tries: Paul Williams, Alapati Leiua, Johnny Leota, Taiasina Tuifua, Brandon Va’aulu. Conversions: Williams (3), Ki Anufe. Penalties: Williams (2). Italy 10 (3) – Try: Penalty try. Conversion: Alberto Di Bernardo. Penalty: Luciano Orquera.

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