What a weekend for Boks and Proteas

2015-10-21 06:00

NOW that was more like it – South African sports achievements that resonated loud and clear at compass points far from home in the Far North and the Far South-East.

That last weekend was the true measure of SA rugby and cricket in a weekend of triumph for the Springboks at Twickenham, London and the Proteas in Rajkot, India. Each had their heroes, of course. None bigger though than new Springbok captain, Fourie du Preez, his efforts nicely captured in a five-column picture in one of the national weekend papers as he roared with delight at having scored the match-winning try just six minutes from full time to take the Boks to the Rugby World Cup semi-finals.

The try made all the difference.

In a see-sawing match in which the Boks were 12-13 behind at the break, it was wonderfully fitting that it should be Du Preez who slipped around the blindside of a tense passage to dot down.

Handré Pollard, who otherwise was melodiously on song with five penalties and a drop-goal, missed the conversion of this his team’s only try. But it didn’t matter. The hard work had been done.

Ironically, Wales’ Dan Biggar succeeded with three penalties, a conversion (of scrumhalf Gareth Davies’ try) and a drop-goal for Wales – and made no secret of his disgust at being replaced with some ten minutes of play remaining. Would it have made a difference had he not been replaced? Who knows?

It wasn’t a great game with the Boks making unnecessary errors at critical moments. Nonetheless it was overall a sterling team effort, with some great work by the loose trio, Schalk Burger in particular. Rather it was the sort of game in which both sides gave all they had, never giving up for a moment.

Interestingly the Boks made somewhere in the region of 150 tackles, compared with their opponents’ 45 or 50. This tells a story of its own: for much of the game Wales enjoyed the majority of possession. One of the reasons for this was the Springboks’ inability to make the best use of possession. Time and again they would lose the ball in contact situations. Much to coach Heyneke Meyer’s consternation these breakdowns would furnish new ammunition for the Welsh to set up nerve-wracking opportunities for attacks of their own.

However, that these surges towards the Boks tryline were contained said much for the steadfast refusal of the South African defence to give way. If this game showed one thing it was just how valuable the young second row of Eben Etzebeth and Lood de Jager are going to be to South African rugby in the years ahead. Not only are they lineout specialists of high order but also great foragers in the loose and collisions aimed retaining or stealing possession against the run of play.

And in Rajkot, largely through the efforts of young Quinton de Kock, with an almost faultless century, the Proteas rang up a brave victory in the third ODI against India.

The win, by 18 runs (Proteas 270/7, India 252/6) gave the South Africans a 2-1 lead in the current ODI series. Man of the Match was Morne Morkel with a haul of 4/31, while best of the India team were captain Dhoni with 61 and Kohli 77

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