Bok props show a lot of mettle

2014-06-17 00:00

PLAYING his 50th Test Gurthrö Steenkamp wiped all the worries about the Bok scrum from the table, while the impact reserve prop Tendai Mtawarira made in 35 minutes may have earned him a place in next week’s starting 15 when the Springboks take on Wales in the second Test at the Mbombela stadium.

Mtawarira made at least 10 tackles in the half an hour he was on the pitch, playing arguably his best match in the Bok jersey yet.

The same can be said for Steenkamp and Jannie du Plessis who scrummed Wales onto the backfoot.

But only a week ago these men had been criticised after the Bok scrum did not fare so well against the World XV, amid speculations that Mtawarira and the Du Plessis brothers were played out.

They emphatically disproved this theory in Durban.

Instead, Wales are now worried that their veteran props, Gethin Jenkins and Adam Jones, are getting too old for this gig.

In Durban their reputations were shredded almost as ruthlessly as the Welsh backline, for whom Willie le Roux, Bryan Habana and Morné Steyn showed little respect.

Jones played his 100th Test, of which five were for the British Lions, but he suffered against Steenkamp in the scrums and was replaced after only half an hour by the 21-year-old Samson Lee.

Springbok scrum coach Pieter de Villiers yesterday said he was very happy with the Boks’ scrumming in Durban and expects to see more of the same in Neslpruit on Saturday.

He said the World XV match was the first Test for the front row as a unit and they had a different lock pair in Victor Matfield and Bakkies Botha.

“Everyone had to adapt to our system and that is why it was a difficult start.” He said the World XV also came loaded with experience in players like Carl Hayman, who remains one of the best.

He said Steenkamp did very well and Mtawarira then lifted the tempo while Du Plessis also had a busy time carrying the ball and cleaning up the phases.

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