5 talking points: Springboks v England, 1st Test

Faf de Klerk (Gallo Images)
Faf de Klerk (Gallo Images)

Cape Town - Sport24’s Herman Mostert highlights FIVE talking points following the Springboks’ 42-39 win over England in the first Test in Johannesburg.

1. Points record for SA v England!

A statistic that flew under the radar was that Saturday’s Test at Ellis Park saw the most points scored in a match between the two nations.

The helter-skelter affair, which yielded 10 tries (5 apiece) and 81 points, eclipsed the 77 points scored when the Springboks won 55-22 in Pretoria in 2007.

The victory was also South Africa’s 24th in 39 Tests against England.

The Red Roses boast 13 wins, with two clashes ending in draws.

2. A Bok comeback to remember

Over the years, the Springboks haven’t been renowned as a great comeback team.

The Boks play well when they’re confident and on the front foot.

Therefore, when England raced to a 24-3 lead inside the first quarter, I’ll admit I had my reservations about the probability of a comeback.

It was like the Allister Coetzee era all over again.

But credit must be given to Siya Kolisi and his charges, who soon found their rhythm and, in the end, ran out deserved victors.

The 50 000-plus crowd at Ellis Park got their money’s worth and it was another reminder of just how passionate South Africans remain about rugby - at the highest level at least.

After some dark times, Springbok fans deserved this victory.

3. Overseas Boks show their worth

The overseas contingent picked by coach Rassie Erasmus - scrumhalf Faf de Klerk, fullback Willie le Roux and No 8 Duane Vermeulen - proved that the Bok mentor cannot do without the option of calling on talent from abroad.

De Klerk and Le Roux showed why they made the English Premiership’s Team of the Year with scintillating performances.

Man-of-the-match De Klerk, as usual, proved his attacking prowess, but it was his improvements on defence and game management that caught the eye.

Le Roux was also a calm head at the back and his experience proved vital on Saturday, while Vermeulen made his presence felt in no uncertain terms.

His physicality, dominance of the breakdown area and lineout prowess were omnipresent at Ellis Park and his selection for RWC 2019 is a no-brainer.

4. Dream Bok debuts

The Springbok trio of wings S'bu Nkosi and Aphiwe Dyantyi, and lock RG Snyman, will fondly remember their Test debuts.

Nkosi’s first half brace sparked the Bok fightback, while Dyantyi also crossed the whitewash in the second period.

Both will admit they have work to do on defence, but their speed and physicality out wide proved vital in the final outcome.

Snyman was equally impressive. Aside from his 50m dash shortly after half-time, the Bulls lock was superb in the engine room.

Apart from his obviously athletic abilities, the giant of 2.06m does not shy away from putting in the hard yards up front.

5. Pressure mounting on England coach

Eddie Jones started his tenure like a house on fire, winning 22 of his first 23 Tests in charge.

But things have gone pear-shaped in 2018 and Saturday’s defeat was England's fifth on the trot.

England lost their final three Six Nations games - to Scotland, France and Ireland - and also lost to the Barbarians shortly before their SA trip.

The English press is unforgiving and will come hard at Jones if they fail to win the series against the Boks.

At the beginning of the year, England were tipped as the team to challenge the All Blacks at next year’s World Cup, but their most recent performances certainly suggest otherwise.

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