The Springboks got the job done in overwhelming France 35-12 on Saturday at Ellis Park but there was certainly something missing from their guard at times.
It could have been the late withdrawal of captain Warren Whiteley due to a groin injury.
Yet they still managed to score four tries and they certainly didn’t miss many tricks on defence once again.
In the process, they achieved their first win over France at Ellis Park and their first 3-0 series win since the 1970s.
Who was the star in this match?
Lock Franco Mostert has certainly grown in stature. Not only is his workrate and tackle rate unmatched but he was the player who ripped the ball free that led to the Boks first try. He also had to change his line-out calls at literally the last minute when Whiteley pulled out.
Key themes and moments
- The try by centre Jesse Kriel in the eighth minute gave the Boks an important 10-0 lead after France had dominated the early proceedings. Flank Jean-Luc du Preez caught France in possession while the rip was done by lock Franco Mostert before the ball was quickly recycled. It was a big psychological blow.
- While the Springboks lacked overall rhythm, probably because of the enforced changes, they were clinical at vital moments. Stand-in captain Eben Etzebeth’s try was a case in point. It was a clever orchestrated move with centre Jan Serfontein taking the line-out ball in order to give the Boks more beef at the maul.
- He didn’t gel all that well with halfback partner Francois Hougaard but the goal-kicking of Bok pivot Elton Jantjies was still crucial for the Springboks. He’s ensured South Africa’s dominance gets rewarded in this series.
- The impact from the bench was immense with lock Pieter-Steph du Toit scrumming down at No 8 after he replaced Jean-Luc du Preez, while another lock in Lood de Jager replaced Mostert and performed as well as anytime this season. Rudy Paige also had some joy in scoring his first Test try.
Springboks – Tries: Jesse Kriel, Eben Etzebeth, Malcolm Marx, Rudy Paige. Conversions: Elton Jantjies (3). Penalties: Jantjies (3).
France – Penalties: Jules Plisson (4).