Strong-running Mvovo seems obvious replacement for injured Basson in Edinburgh

2010-11-15 00:00

LWAZI Mvovo, the strong-running Sharks wing, should make his Test debut against Scotland in Edinburgh on Saturday.

The 24-year-old Mvovo is expected to take over from injured wing Bjorn Basson at Murrayfield.

Basson, with few opportunities to impress in the Tests against Ireland and Wales, has been forced out of the tour after an ankle injury sustained in Saturday’s 29-25 win over Wales in Cardiff.

A decision on a replacement will be taken early this week, but Mvovo, who is in the tour squad, seems an obvious replacement.

After an excellent run in the Currie Cup, Mvovo deserves his chance, but nothing in selection can be taken for granted and coach Peter de Villiers could move fullback Gio Aplon to the wing and field either Frans Steyn or Zane Kirchner at fullback.

The Boks blew cold and then hot in beating the Welsh on Saturday as they followed a disjointed, limp first half with 25 minutes of impressive rugby to take the lead after the break. Inevitably, De Villiers’ late changes brought new problems and the Boks were forced to defend resolutely for the last 10 minutes to secure the four-point win.

“The defensive effort demonstrated the character of this team,” said De Villiers yesterday. “I was very happy with the spirit, but we know there’s a lot of work still to be done.

“Our first-half play left a lot to be desired, but we spoke about it at half-time, tightened up and then produced the rugby we can play. We’ve had two hard-fought victories [against Ireland and Wales], but we have yet to produce an entirely satisfactory performance so there’s plenty for us to work on.”

The Scottish were given a 49-3 weekend hiding by the All Blacks but De Villiers is wary.

“The last time we were in Edinburgh we only won by four points [14-10] and we lost here in 2002. We’ll keep that at the front of our minds this week.”

Bok captain Victor Matfield, who dummied his way over for the second try to celebrate his record 103rd Test cap in style, was also delighted with the players’ resilience.

“I’m extremely proud of the way the guys pulled together and the pride we showed.

“We were more accurate in the second half, we started to do things with an efficiency that we lacked in the first half and put the Welsh under far more pressure.”

While De Villiers and Matfield were praising their team, the home team’s coach, Warren Gatland, was angrily kicking his toys (or the furniture) in the Welsh dressing-room.

“I kicked a few tables over in the changing room, that’s how disappointed I was,” Gatland said.

“Once you crack it [beating the Boks], it becomes easier, but until you do it, it’s getting that monkey off your back.

“We are not far away and it would be nice to nail one of these games.

“We played some great rugby and it was a step up from last week [against Australia].”

Gatland criticised referee Steve Walsh for awarding a penalty to the Boks on half-time, which saw Morné Steyn narrow the deficit of 11 points to 17-9.

“The penalty was crucial to the way the game went and we felt that Walsh had been informed before he awarded that penalty that time was up.”

Walsh said that the Welsh had infringed during the final movement, but before the half-time hooter had sounded.

De Villiers made his usual late replacements and some worked better than others.

Replacement flank Willem Alberts did for the Boks what he has done for the Sharks all season and added momentum to the pack, while substitute scrumhalf Francois Hougaard was energetic and confrontational.

But hooker Chiliboy Ralepelle, on for Bismarck du Plessis in the closing minutes, missed his lineout jumpers twice in a row and placed the Boks under intense pressure.

De Villiers defended the substitution, saying that Du Plessis was carrying a heavy workload.

“Bismarck has played a couple of tough games in the past few weeks and we need to manage him.”

But perhaps De Villiers should also spare a thought for the many thousands of Springbok supporters who need management (and medication) after being dragged, unnecessarily, through five minutes of white-knuckle tension.

Springbok Test report, page 26.

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