Boshoff’s time to show off

2014-11-08 00:00

CAPE TOWN — Lions flyhalf Marnitz Boshoff led the restricted South African charge with a classy late cameo for the Barbarians as they were held off 40-36 by Australia in a Twickenham thriller last Saturday.

In doing so he ticked boxes for temperament and “bouncebackability” after the acute disappointment he would have felt only a week earlier as his unusually wayward place-kicking in the early summer south-easter contributed to his province being pipped 19-16 by hosts WP in the Currie Cup final at Newlands.

Here the 25-year-old from Nelspruit, who has mostly been inspirational in both Super Rugby and the domestic competition when available this year, restored normal personal service as he made the very most of his mere 12 minutes off the bench near the end of the time-honoured festival game.

Boshoff, already a one-cap Springbok, got onto the park after coach John Kirwan — who had picked a very New Zealand-centric starting XV — hauled off No. 10 Colin Slade in the final quarter.

The All Black had certainly put up a decent showing himself with his cheeky dinks and other tricks, but the one thing Boshoff did when belatedly introduced to the channel was bring a sense of urgency and directness that rubbed off well on his outside backs.

It had seemed the BaaBaas had finally run out of puff when Boshoff took up his role as the Wallabies, operating under Michael Cheika’s coaching tutelage for the first time, were a handsome 40-22 up.

Instead the BaaBaas got an admirable and concerted second wind, thanks in no small measure to Boshoff, paired up with a compatriot scrumhalf and fellow-sub in Sarel Pretorius, taking firm ownership of the berth. First he threw out a crisp, authoritative left-to-right pass to help create crucial space for a popular try beneath the posts to that quirky cult figure Nick Cummins, the predatory “Honey Badger” on the left wing who has a large army of fuzzy wig-wearing fans wherever he travels in the world.

But the cosmopolitan side weren’t done yet, as shortly afterwards Cummins himself orchestrated a sizzling breakout from about 55-60 metres, feeding an infield pass to Boshoff who streaked away with no lack of gas for a touchdown of his own.

Suddenly there were only four points in it and the BaaBaas kept hammering away right into the 84th minute to try to orchestrate a fairytale comeback triumph.

In those dying stages, both Boshoff and Pretorius — the blond Cheetahs favourite’s style of play is tailor-made for a fast and loose environment — were very constructive, even if their enterprise was not necessarily appreciated to the fullest extent by the English television commentary team of Stuart Barnes and company.

Perhaps it was excusable because Boshoff, especially, is a reasonably new star on the first-class rugby block in 2014 and not yet a household face in the Northern Hemisphere; that could lie a bit further up the road.

Given game time from the third quarter onward, open-side flanker Heinrich Brussow also grew nicely into the contest; he was penalised once at the breakdown by Jaco Peyper but made some energetic tackles and got involved in some linking play during the BaaBaas’ enormous rally.

South Africans, and especially those partial to the Sharks, watching the game would also have got some pleasure out of the industry of another second-half impact substitute, the barrelling still-teenage loosehead prop Thomas du Toit, who won two fine turnovers.

The BaaBaas might have been better served by starting with Du Toit rather than his recent franchise colleague Matt Stevens, who has struggled for best form in the Currie Cup.

But maybe the Durban-born England veteran’s right to the No. 1 jersey at the outset was at least partly influenced by his long-time familiarity to the Twickenham faithful — he is certainly more of a “name” internationally at this point.

Ironically the only South African to start the value-for-money occasion, Bok centre Juan de Jongh — who no longer seems in favour with Meyer — struggled to really impose himself.

He did have one golden chance to streak away for a possible intercept try from a ropey Quade Cooper pass, but agonisingly could not hold on.

Still, it was arguably asking a bit much to expect him to take the game by storm, given the immense mental and physical effort he had put in as captain of the eventual Currie Cup champions right up to a few days ago.

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