There were no flashy tries or ridiculous displays of individual brilliance. For the most part, it was measured and it was structured.
CAPE TOWN – So, if you were craving Test match rugby, the Springbok Showdown probably would have satisfied that appetite to a certain extent.
There was nothing flamboyant about this match on Saturday. There were no flashy tries or ridiculous displays of individual brilliance. For the most part, it was measured and it was structured.
In the build-up to the match, much focus fell on the opportunity that this game would offer players given that it was a kind of ‘national trials’.
And even though there was that opportunity for players to put themselves on Rassie Erasmus’ or Jacques Nienaber’s radar, many of them didn’t really get the chance to fully express themselves, especially the outside backs.
The fact that there was nothing hanging on this match also gave rugby-hungry South Africans valid reason to expect excitement and a thrill-a-minute disply, especially because the teams were basically made up of solid Springbok experience and junior talent.
But, for the most part, it was the one team (Green) trying to slow the game down, while the other team (Gold) did try to play, although they didn’t always get it right given what the opposition did.
There wasn’t much fluidity or a helluva lot of phases strung together during the first half especially but, for all its ‘blandness’, there were some promising displays put on show.
Springbok Green scrumhalf Sanele Nohamaba showed why he is such a prospect with his attitude and energy, while the chance that a lot of the replacement players got would also have done enough to show why they need to be watched in future.
Up until half time, when the score was 6-3 to the Green side, it felt like only a try could really change the game and inject life into it.
Elton Jantjies, flyhalf of the Green team, got the scoreboard ticking when he slotted the first penalty to take the numbers to 3-0.
Jantjies extended their lead to 6-0 early in the second quarter when he added another three points through a penalty conversion, and in the 29th minute he had another chance to build on their numerical advantage on the scoreboard, but sent it wide to the left.
Damian Willemse, flyhalf of the Springbok Gold team, got his side on the scoreboard when he added a penalty kick in the 34th minute, but the fact that he didn’t hit the spot a number of times throughout the match, before he was replaced, also impacted the tally.
At half time the Rassie Erasmus and Mzwandile Sticks’ unit was 6-3 up at the break.
Early in the second 40, the Springbok Gold team were hot on attack, before Elton Jantjies intervened. A few minutes later, Willemse’s afternoon became a bit more sour after he was sent to the bin (13-3), but after that, World Cup-winning loosehead prop, Steven Kitshoff, produced an impressive piece of play to win the Gold team a penalty, which replacement flyhalf Curwin Bosch made good on to narrow the gap and take the score to 13-6.
One of the best parts of the match was the beautiful driving maul the Springbok Green team put together, which saw great control from Bok skipper Siya Kolisi at the back to go over and get the points (18-6).
Bosch added another three-pointer to take the score to 18-9, but in the 73rd minute, a kick bounced off lock JD Schickerling’s head and Green No 8 Juarno Augustus scored to end the game on 25-9.