Boks smash Scots

2014-06-28 23:00

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Four new Springboks, eight tries, 55 points and a possible serious injury were the order of the day after Victor Matfield and his men went on the rugby equivalent of a spot of grouse shooting in Port Elizabeth yesterday.

In a mismatch that would probably have been called off had it been staged in a boxing ring, Scotland were no match for the clearly bigger and stronger Springboks.

The Boks got their first try in less than four minutes and their superiority was perhaps best illustrated by the fact that for a sloppy period of 35 minutes in the first half, they failed to score a try.

The result means the patched-up Boks concluded their winter test season with a clean slate of four wins over a World XV, Wales and now the Scots and Heyneke Meyer has a fair idea of the team to put out in the Rugby Championship that starts in August.

Forced to recall the likes of Matfield, Bakkies Botha and Schalk Burger because of injuries to younger players, Meyer would have been delighted yesterday to give young flyhalf Handré Pollard, flank Teboho Mohoje, No?10 Marnitz Boshoff and lock Stephan Lewies their first taste of test rugby.

Pollard, who a week ago had been leading the Baby Boks in the Junior World Championship in New Zealand, stepped smoothly into the senior arena and contributed 13 points off the boot while the other three were introduced off the bench later in the game.

Lock Lood de Jager, making his first start in the jersey, celebrated the occasion by being one of three players to notch a brace of tries along with the returning Marcell Coetzee and Lwazi Mvovo, and new prop Marcel van der Merwe showed he might be the ball-carrying, mobile front-rower Meyer is looking for.

Jan Serfontein, back in his home town, turned in arguably his best showing in his short test career by removing any doubt about his defensive capabilities with the way he scythed down the Scottish centres.

The Boks signalled their intention to play more attacking rugby from the kick-off and at times moved slickly when allowed front-foot ball by a Scots team forced to play negatively, but still lacked rhythm and variety in their efforts to play wider.

However, the big concern was the sight of Fourie du Preez hobbling on crutches at the end when the Boks saluted the crowd. The star scrum half suffered an ankle injury that Meyer admitted to being very worried about.

“The doc suspects he may have a cracked bone in his ankle but we’ll not know for sure until we get the scans done,” he said.

Meyer said the series of tests had “answered many of the questions we had. The older guys came through fantastically and a number of the youngsters showed that they have many years of test rugby ahead of them. It’s going to be very difficult picking a 30-man squad for the Rugby Championship,” he added.

Matfield said he was thrilled with the strong revival after a scratchy performance against Wales in Mbombela. “It was so special for me to see the expression on Lood’s [De Jager’s] face after he scored his tries. It was great to see the youngsters play so well; they’re going to be putting the number ones under a lot of pressure.”

»The Waratahs took pole position in the race to top the Super Rugby log to secure home advantage if they advance to the final by beating the Brumbies 39-8 in Sydney yesterday.

The victory hoisted the Waratahs three points clear of the Sharks on 48 points with both sides having completed 14 games.

However, the Crusaders went down 9-16 at the hands of the Hurricanes to ease the Sharks’ passage to finish second on the overall log to ensure a home semifinal.

South African sides return to action this weekend with the Sharks facing two away games?–?the Cheetahs in Bloemfontein on Saturday and the Stormers in Cape Town in the final weekend of league fixtures on July 12.

Other results were: Force 14 Blues 40; Highlanders 29 Chiefs 25.

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