Baby Boks lay down marker
THE Junior Springboks laid down a marker with 40 minutes of brutally intense rugby in their final Pool match against England on Tuesday to remind opponents why they started the World Championships as one of the favourites.
By beating England 28-15, scoring all their points in the second half, they have set up a semi-final against Argentina at Newlands. Wales meet New Zealand in the other semi in a replay of their Pool A match last week, which Wales shockingly won 9-6.
Coach Dawie Theron will have some soul-searching to do in the coming few days because some players, who weren’t originally ‘first choice’ starters, have stepped up.
And the particularly vexing question is how to accommodate skipper and flank Wian Liebenberg alongside the immense Pieter-Steph Du Toit.
Liebenberg missed the England match with a wrist injury and in his place Du Toit, usually a lock at the Sharks, gave a fine display that would have won man-of-the-match on any other night. As it was that accolade went to fellow backrower Shaun Adendorff, who scored two tries and was omnipresent in the loose.
In the front row the coach will mull over tighthead Oliver Kebble’s terrible 28 minutes that saw England loosehead Luke Cowan-Hickie teach the 19-year-old a scrumming lesson.
Nicolaas van Dyk replaced Kebble in the first half and the scrums stabilised and Van Dyk also featured prominently in the loose.
Although the coach was decisive in yanking Kebble off before the half hour mark, he was also quick to defend the player after the game.
“I’ve been in the front row at test level, I’ve played both sides of the scrum and I know what it’s like,” Theron said.
“One day you can be a monster and the next day you get a monster against you. It doesn’t mean someone is suddenly a bad player.”
When their scrum settled and the lineout improved after a shaky opening half against the English, the Boks were able to string phases together, unleash their strike runners and bash the visitors into submission. Four tries was the net result.
It was sensational rugby and England, in many cases physically bigger than their South African counterparts, had no answer to the intensity of the hosts. It’s that intensity the Boks need to find for 80 minutes if they hope to win the title for the first time in its current under-20 guise.
“We knew we only needed to make minor adjustments after halftime because we had four opportunities to score in the first half and we never took them,” coach Dawie Theron said.
“But as coaches we knew that the heart and the will to succeed was there and by tweaking our lineout and scrums and it came off for us.
"Our lineouts were just not good enough for this level, or any level, but the systems we use are tried and tested and we will not change that,” Theron said.
“England had done their homework and put pressure on our throw but it’s something we will work around.”
SA and Argentina have already met twice this year — in two pre World Championship warm-ups — with the Boks winning both encounters.