It wasn’t a perfect performance from the Springboks but they showed enough enterprise in their first Test outing of the year in beating France 37-14 at Loftus on Saturday night.
It was the Boks first win in six Tests after losing their last five Tests in 2016.
Also read: Springboks vs France – As it happened
Spearheaded by a bulldozing performance of hooker Malcolm Marx up front and ably supported by flank Siya Kolisi, lock Franco Mostert and scrumhalf Ross Cronje, they created numerous try scoring opportunities.
However, they could still do better in rounding them off.
Bok captain Warren Whiteley was also great in his first skipper and he was just about here, there and everywhere.
The smallish crowd of 29 313 was slightly disappointing after an attendance of close to 40 000 were expected.
Who was the star in this match?
Bok hooker Malcolm Marx was a tower of strength, bursting through tackles with his massive frame. He was also excellent in open play, proving a superb support runner and being a menace at the breakdown.
Key themes and events
- The Boks’ opening try after 30 minutes was scored by centre Jesse Kriel, finally giving the home side a handy cushion of 13-0 after brilliant work by fullback Andries Coetzee, who broke a tackle, got up again and found Marx who off-loaded to a flying Kriel. Before that, the Boks kept possession well without threatening.
- The French hit back with their first try by centre Henry Chavancy in the 35th minute after both Coetzee and captain Warren Whiteley were caught on the wrong foot by the awkward bounce in the Boks’ in-goal area and it brought France back in the game trailing just 13-7. South Africa could’ve been derailed by that but got back into their opponents’ half and forced a penalty … and some relief.
- Coetzee was excellent on his debut, providing the much needed stability at the back. He was very active in open play where his linking role with scrumhalf Ross Cronje created numerous opportunities.
- The penalty try awarded to the Boks in the 60th minute gave the Boks a vital lead of 23-14 after wing Courtnall Skosan was interfered with by French fullback Brice Dulin for which he also got yellow-carded after pulling Skosan back. Thereafter, the floodgates opened.
- Many wrongs from last year were righted in this game. The Boks’ defence was far more effective and organised. There was also a better balance between attacking and practical rugby.
Springboks – Tries: Jesse Kriel, penalty try, Ross Cronje, Jan Serfontein. Conversions: Jantjies (4). Penalties: Jantjies (3).
France – Tries: Henry Chavancy, Baptiste Serin. Conversions: Jules Plisson (2).