Boks stutter into final

Forgetting the need to “Earn the right to go wide”, the Boks tried too much, too soon, stuttering to a win against the Scots at Mbombela.

And as a result they will play Samoa, who were impressive against a flat Italian side, in the quadrangular final in Pretoria next Saturday.

Tank Lanning in White River …

The South Africans had to come from a 17-6 deficit in the second half of their clash to beat Scotland 30-17, whilst Samoa were too good for Italy on the day, easily beating them 39-10 after leading 10-3 at the break.

So South Africa top the log courtesy of a better points difference than Samoa and the two will clash in the main match of the Loftus Versfeld double header next weekend.

Scotland (3rd) and Italy (4th), both of whom have yet to win in the series, will contest the early match.

Match reviews …

South Africa 30 (6), Scotland 17 (10)

The Springboks regrouped timeously enough, perhaps thanks to a slightly questionable yellow card, after halftime to avoid embarrassment, but their 30-17 win over Scotland tested coach Heyneke Meyer’s team a lot more than many, no doubt including the actual players, expected.

And given the capitulation by a flat Italian side to the Samoans in the earlier game, perhaps last weekend’s win should be seen in a new light?

The Boks lost big ball carrying loose forward Arno Botha in the first minute of the match to a knee injury, which did not help their cause, although Meyer, rightfully, was very proud of the way replacement Siya Kolisi played.

“We have lost Arno for at least eight weeks, so it is a pity, but Siya really took his chance well. We were tested out there today, this was a proper test match,” Meyer said.

The coach admitted that they did not play well at the breakdowns, where Alisdair Strokosch ruled the roost. Good open siders live on the envelope of legality, but many would argue that the Scot was given too much leeway by referee Romain Poite. But against the likes of the All Blacks, this will be the norm, and the Boks will need to adapt or die …

With six minutes to go, there were only three points in it as the Boks led 20-17. It was then that replacement flyhalf Patrick Lambie stepped up to kick a penalty to make it a six point buffer and on the final whistle young centre Jan Serfontein barged through to score his firstTest try.

The first try of the match was created for the Scots by a great chip and gather out on the right and centre Matt Scott, who was a real menace for the home side in the first 20 minutes, scored. Laidlaw’s conversion was the last score of the half.

Outside centre Alex Dunbar went over in the left corner early in the second half, which is not what the Bok doctor would have ordered, the Boks seemingly having not given the Scots enough respect in the first half to first grind them down before brining in the tricksters …

The Boks benefitted from a penalty try as the pack rumbled up to the line from a lineout, Poite declaring that the maul had been brought down illegally, and then JJ Engelbrecht scored the try that put the Boks into a lead in the 55th minute that they were never to relinquish. Willie le Roux’s pass to Engelbrecht, which was timed perfection, made the try, but it was one of the few times that the exciting young fullback was allowed to showcase his skill set.

It was a proper wake up call for the Boks, who will need to be at their best if they are to get past the physical Samoans next weekend. While it is great to see the Boks showing more attacking intent, they will do well to do the hard yards up front first, preferably in the opposition half, before letting the ball do its work.

Ruan Pienaar, while not given the best ride in the world by his forwards, tended to kick too much, too many of which were aimless kicks that gave the ball away, and does not possess that crisp service that Jano Vermaak put to great use last weekend.

South Africa – Tries: Penalty try, JJ Engelbrecht, Jan Serfontein. Conversions: Mornè Steyn (2), Pat Lambie. Penalties: Steyn (2), Lambie.

Scotland – Tries: Matt Scott, Alex Dunbar. Conversions: Greig Laidlaw (2). Penalty: Laidlaw

Samoa 39 (10), Italy 10 (3)

Apart from captain Sergio Parisse, who certainly is classy, there was little to write home about for the Azzurri, as their second outing in South Africa ended in just as big a defeat as the first one.

Samoa’s hard-running style, physical ability at the breakdowns and improvement in the scrums was there to see from last weekend. They opened their scoring when Tusi Pisi broke through the midfield and sent the ball wide for Paul Williams to score. Italian flyhalf Luciano Orquera got his side on the board with a penalty but it wasn’t long before Williams had restored the lead.

Pisi again saw some space behind the gain line and put through the perfect grubber for Alapati Leiua to time his run perfectly and score the second try.

Samoa kicked another penalty and killed off any chance of the match being a contest as they stole a great ball in their own 22, took the ball up and watched as Johnny Leota ran 70 metres to outstrip the defence and put them way out in front.

The Samoans’ fourth try was just as impressive on the counter-attack, but had to be confirmed upstairs as Wayne Ole Avei looked to be in touch as he passed inside to Taiasina Tuifua for the try. Leiua was sent to the sin bin late in the game for a professional foul and applying pressure in the maul the Italians finally were rewarded as Craig Joubert awarded a penalty try, taking them to double figures.

Samoa – Tries: Paul Williams, Alapati Leiua, Johnny Leota, Taiasina Tuifua, Brandon Va’aulu. Conversions: Williams (3), Ki Anufe. Penalties: Williams (2).

Italy – Try: Penalty try. Conversion: Alberto Di Bernardo. Penalty: Luciano Orquera.

Weekend results:

Canada 14 – 40 Ireland
Argentina 26 – 51 England
South Africa 30 – 17 Scotland
Italy 10 – 39 Samoa
New Zealand 30 – 0 France
Japan 23 – 8 Wales
Waratahs 17 – 47 British and Irish Lions


  1. This was against a predominantly 2nd& 3rd team Scottish side because of Lions call ups and injuries plus under normal circumstances two of them would not have even started because of injury. Poor showing. Spies, the no where man once again. Engelbrecht, goodness he lacks imagination at 13 – crash, bash, wallop. Pienaar very average. Agree he was not helped by his forwards but he and Steyn do not look comfortable with each other. I do wish HM would learn that he cannot coach from the “box” – he has to calm down. I agree with the Scottish coach when asked if he wanted to cite anyone – his response, “the TMO” – Gerrie Coetzee has been hopeless during the S15. The ref (who I have always felt is dodge) said “try or no try” – he did not ask the TMO to go back 40m and look for any infringement.

  2. The ref missed a lot of obstructions played against Habana. Including pushing and blocking defending players away from ball carrier. Illigal off the ball play was the norm for Scotland

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