Bok Lions hailed after pressure-easing win

Malcolm Marx (Gallo Images)
Malcolm Marx (Gallo Images)

Johannesburg - Springboks Elton Jantjies, Ross Cronje, Malcolm Marx and Franco Mostert were praised Sunday in the South African media after a pressure-easing 37-14 Test victory over France.

The workmanlike success at Loftus Versfeld stadium in Pretoria Saturday was only the second in nine internationals for coach Allister Coetzee.

There has been media speculation that a series loss to the French over three Tests would trigger the sacking of the 54-year-old handler.

After largely shunning players from the Lions last year, despite them being the best of Super Rugby side from South Africa, Coetzee had a change of heart.

And City Press writer Simnikiwe Xabanisa said the Coetzee u-turn paid off as flyhalf Jantjies, scrumhalf Cronje, hooker Marx and lock Mostert, all Lions, impressed.

"Marx was pace and power personified, and showed a distributive side, giving the assist that put (centre Jesse) Kriel away for the opening try of the match," he wrote.

"Jantjies kicked out once on the full early in the game, but after that he was his usual commanding self, directing traffic with authority.

"(Elton was) kicking well out of hand and at poles, kicking all his kicks at goal and standing his ground in defence.

Xabanisa called the surprise selection of Mostert ahead of Stormers' Pieter-Steph du Toit a "masterstroke".

"This guy is simple -- he makes his tackles, gets up off the floor quickly and avails himself for every carry.

"Cronje was all composure with his distribution and capped his debut with a try. While the other debutants bristled with intent, they did not have quite the same influence."

City Press had several concerns about the Springboks, including defending in the wide areas and ball-carrying on attack.

"While their (defensive) structures were not exactly convincing out wide -- where they were often breached -- they made up for that with their attitude on the scramble.

"With the exception of the explosive Marx and forceful Siya Kolisi, they are still in the market for go-forward merchants and out-and-out strike runners."

Sunday Independent writer Jacques van der Westhuizen cautioned that the four-tries-to-two win does not mean the Springboks were impressive or the finished article.

"They were far from it last night. They were simply a little better than their opponents," he wrote.

"The standout feature of the Boks performance was their impressive defensive display -- they were put under serious pressure at times and stood up well.

"(Winger) Raymond Rhule was excellent throughout in this department, while the exit kicking of Jantjies was also a feature of the performance."

South Africa play France again next Saturday in Durban with the final Test on June 24 in Johannesburg.

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