Ross Roche

By Ross Roche

Senior sports writer

Still room for improvement despite Springboks drubbing of Wallabies – Vermeulen

The scrum battle was also a tough one for the Boks, with a few decisions going against them in the first half.

Despite a 43-12 drubbing handed out to the Wallabies by a Springbok team featuring a host of fringe players at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday night, stand-in skipper Duane Vermeulen believes that the result could have been even better.

The Boks produced a decent first half performance to lead 17-5 at halftime, but they pulled away emphatically in the second half, thanks to some ill-discipline from the Aussies that led to two penalty tries and two yellow cards, which allowed the hosts to seal a massive win.

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The Bok win was built on the bedrock of their defence and kicking game, but showed their willingness to run the ball as well, with wing Kurt-Lee Arendse claiming a hattrick of tries.

“We pride ourselves on our defence and we are happy with that. Sometimes you might make a mistake but the reaction from the guys, to come back from that first try of Australia, was just fantastic,” said Vermeulen.

“We prepared in a way that we can hopefully exploit a weakness. It was fantastic to see how we executed some of our plays. But some we also did not execute that well. So, there is room for improvement for us.

“But the effort and the work rate from the guys was fantastic. A guy like Jean Kleyn who played his first test, he stole a couple of balls. It’s nice to see the guys buying into our plan and executing it.”

Scrum battle

The scrum battle was also a tough one for the Boks, with a few decisions going against them in the first half, only for them to improve and get better as the match went on.

“Australia picked a big pack and we are still a bit rusty with things we can work on scrum wise. A couple of free kicks and a penalty went against us, but as the game went on we found our feet and grew in confidence,” explained Vermeulen.

“That’s some of the things we are happy about, but its Test match rugby and you’ve got to be on song from the start and you can’t ease into the game.”

Next challenge

The Boks next face the All Blacks in Auckland before returning to South Africa for their final home game of the year, against Argentina in Johannesburg, following which they head off for three warm-up games away ahead of the World Cup in France.

With just one match left in the country before they head off to try defend their title, Vermeulen is hopeful of seeing another full house at Ellis Park.

“It was fantastic coming out seeing the support. From singing the anthem onwards and every single player at every scrum, lineout we could hear the people and it’s that extra energy and like having a 16th man on the field. It really pushed us through,” admitted Vermeulen.

““Before we go to the World Cup when we play our last match at Ellis Park, it would be tremendous to have a full stadium again. We had a chat to the CEO of the Bulls and he said they could have sold out the stadium about three times for today’s test.

 “The support we have in South Africa is phenomenal and from our side we’d just like to say ‘thank you’ to every single person who was out there. It really is fantastic.”