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Hope for the World Cup

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The five tries scored by the Boks on Saturday is proof they are a team that is prepared to mix it with the best and get the results as well

ELATION: South Africas Willie le Roux celebrates the final whistle as the Springboks celebrate their 36-34 win over the All Blacks on Saturday. Picture: BackpagePix

A FANTASTIC defensive effort, five tries scored, and a morale- and confidence-booster. Those are the big positives to take forward for Springbok coach Rassie Erasmus and to build on following Saturday’s heroic Rugby Championship win against New Zealand in Wellington. It wasn’t a perfect performance by the Boks, but it was a victory that will give Erasmus plenty of hope and confidence about the future and his team’s chances at next year’s World Cup.

The 36-34 victory was the first by the Boks in New Zealand in nine years and the total number of points scored by the visitors is the most conceded by the All Blacks on home turf. Erasmus’ team produced a guts and glory effort to stun the No 1 team in the world – a result that has been viewed as crucial in keeping alive every other rugby nation’s dreams of also one day beating the mighty All Blacks.

It took a Herculean defensive effort by the Boks to get over the line, with several players pulling off crucial and big hits – either throughout the game or in the dying stages. What the win has done is take the pressure off Erasmus and the players, who didn’t show up like they should have in Mendoza and Brisbane.

The five tries scored by the Boks on Saturday is proof they are a team that is prepared to mix it with the best and get the results as well.

It was also hugely encouraging to see Malcolm Marx cross after a well-worked line-out drive.

Then there were the two tries scored by the find of 2018, Aphiwe Dyantyi. The simple ball-through-the-hands by the men on his inside was too quick for the All Blacks’ defence to reset, allowing the wing space on the outside to dart over. His second try was even better; taking a well-timed floated ball out wide by his Lions teammate Elton Jantjies and then stepping inside to beat the defence to score.

The Boks might have lost the possession and territorial battle and even been on the back foot for most of the encounter, and let in six tries, but they deserved their win because they finished the opportunities they created.

One of the big positives to come out of the clash was the strong showing by Elton Jantjies and Handré Pollard playing next to each other in the second half, while Warren Whiteley also finally hit top form, the performance his best in a Bok jersey. Pieter-Steph du Toit also stood up when it mattered – at flank – and Steven Kitshoff, Frans Malherbe and Franco Mostert all did more than was asked of them.

At the back Faf de Klerk and Le Roux again produced quality efforts, while Kolbe showed that heart and talent always trumps size. Captain Siya Kolisi led the team excellently and also produced a strong performance, but after those pulsating, edge-of-the-seat, nerve-jangling 80 minutes one’s got to ask, why can’t the Boks play with the same energy and belief every time they run onto the field?

That is now the challenge facing the Bok management team – to ensure they take all the good from the “Wonder in Wellington” into the Tests back home.