Boks smash Samoan thugs
Sat, 22 Jun 2013 17:21
Habana brings up his half-ton
South Africa won the four-nations title with an emphatic 56-23 hammering of a very spiteful Samoan side in Pretoria on Saturday.
In what must rank as the best and most entertaining performance since Heyneke Meyer took over as coach, the Boks outscored Samoa by eight tries to two.
However, the final encounter of this three-week extravaganza will have a dark cloud of the Samoan thuggery hanging over it.
Samoa are a tough lot but some of their actions on the field were toughness taken too far.
There was the high, late, stiff-armed tackle by Alesana Tuilagi that earned him a red card, which he did not seem to mind.
But worse there was the action of James So'oialo, who was clearly seen putting his hand between Adriaan Strauss' legs and attacking his testicles.
There seems something wrong when a deliberate knock-on earns a yellow card, but grabbing the testicles just a penalty and a calm-down warning.
Prop Cencus Johnson was also lucky not to have seen red, after he kicked Coenie Oosthuizen in the groin and then got him in a throttle.
It is devoutly to be hoped that it will attract interest of the citing commissioner.
The Springboks are to be commended for not getting into a scrap but chanelling their anger into doing rugby things better and harder - tackling, running, chasing.
It's a pity, for the Samoans had so much to offer and produced some thrilling moments in the match, especially in the second half when they abandoned kicking for playing with the ball in hand. They deserved their combined-effort try and they deserved their clever try.
Samoan captain Paul Williams was at his most tactful best, but admitted his team did not exactly cover themselves in glory.
"Our lack of discipline let us down badly," Williams said, adding: "We were on the wrong side of the penalty count.
"It was a humbling experience against a great Springbok team."
This also overshadowed the other great achievement of the match.
Bryan Habana brought up his 50th Test try - stretching his lead as SA's highest try score and taking him to No.5 on the all-time world list. He got two in this match, before being yellow carded for a deliberate knock-on. It is an amazing decision, given the transgressions by the Samoans that were 'rewarded' with only penalties.
As for South Africa - what a difference a week makes!
What was a desultory, fragmented team last week became a composed, coherent, skilful, creative, zestful team this week, playing the sort of rugby people dreamed of, and the Springboks fully deserved their huge victory over worthy, world-wise opponents.
The change was astonishing and so wonderful - the concerted performance of the Springboks in the tight and in the loose and then the free running of the backs that produced four tries by the outside backs and Morné Steyn was also on the outside when he scored his.
Gone, it seems, is the firm belief in structures for there is a different spirit on the field. The players have been set free. And the catalyst for change has been fullback Willie le Roux.
Certainly he made a couple of early mistakes but the things he did well were what was important and of great profit to his side.
Heyneke Meyer and his aids are to be enthusiastically congratulated to produce such an out-of-the- box Bok.
The occasion began with a period of silence in honour of Simo Cyril Mjo, a great scrumhalf for the African Springboks in the early 1960s. He died during the week, just short of his 78th birthday.
Then the players were introduced to dignitaries, then the anthems were sung and then the Samoans did their Manu Siva Tau, their swinging wardance, which ends with an uppercut. Then Steyn kicked off.
The Springboks mauled the first line-out of the match and Filo Paulo was penalised. Steyn goaled. 3-0 after one minute.
Le Roux knocked on the kick-off and Samoa attacked. Steyn dropped out and Bryan Habana got the ball but the Samoans turned it over and attacked again. Eben Etzebeth was penalised at a tackle and So'oialo goaled. 3-all after 10 minutes.
Tusi Pisi claimed a mark just inside his 22. He tapped and darted away, eating up the metres. He gave to Alapati Leiua who gave back to Pisi. Pienaar tackled the Samoan flyhalf five metres from the Springbok line Jeremy Su'a was close but Jannie du Plessis tackled him. On the Springbok line Samoa lost the ball which gave the Springboks a five-metre scrum. They heeled but Pierre Spies was clumsy in picking it up and knocked it on. Again the Samoans attacked and Flip van der Merwe was penalised at a tackle. So'oialo goaled and Samoa led 6-3 after 14 minutes. The lead lasted four minutes.
Two penalties in quick succession gave the Springboks two five-metre line-outs as again they opted for tries instead of penalty goals. From the second Francois Louw went wide to the right and the Springboks went wide where Le Roux beat Tuilagi on the oustide, drew two others and sent Habana on an overlap for his 49th Test try. Steyn converted from far out. 10-6 after 18 minutes.
Johnny Leota was off for a while for a concussion test but he was soon back.
The Springboks attacked from an up-and-under. Strauss, Tendai Mtawarira and Louw were close. They made another penalty into another line-out with a maul on Spies. This time they drove the maul over the line despite the strenuous efforts of the Samoans. Louw scored, Steyn converted and it was 17-6 after 26 minutes.
Just after this hirsute Logovi'i Mulipola was sent to the sin bin for a tackle infringement near his line. Steyn goaled. 20-6 after 28 minutes.
Soon afterwards Van der Merwe was penalised for a high tackle and So'oialo goaled to make it 20-9. That was the last penalty kick at goal for the match as both teams went for tries.
South Africa won a Samoan lineout and went wide where JJ Engelbrecht beat three defenders to score. 25-9 after 34 minutes.
Willem Alberts won a turnover and the Springboks went left. Le Roux was up in the line, held his pass to draw in two defenders and send Bjorn Basson over in the left corner. Steyn converted. 32-9 after 39 minutes. On his way back from his try, Basson thanked Le Roux.
For the second half Siya Kolisi came on for Spies. He went to flank with Alberts shifting to No.8. Three early penalties in the second half set Samoa attacking as they opted for attacking line-outs. They got close to the Springbok line and lively hooker Wayne Ole Avei whirled and slipped a pass inside to Paulo who scored under the posts. 32-16 after 47 minutes.
Kolisi was dazed after tackling big Sakaria Taulafo and went off for a concussion test but was soon back.
The next time the Springboks got the ball after the Strauss-So'oialo incident the Springboks hoisted and up-and-under on So'oialo who dropped the ball with a phalanx of green jerseys bearing down on him.
Tuilagi was not as fortunate. He flew into Jean de Villiers who was not in possession, his right arm swinging at the Springbok's head. The referee redcarded Tuilagi who went off smiling.
A penalty gave the Springboks a five-metre line-out. They made a maul and then Pienaar came away with it on the right and he gave to Habana, Tuilagi's direct opponent. And the great Springbok wing dived over for his fifth Test try, by some way the most by a Springbok. 37-16 after 58 minutes.
Bismarck du Plessis, on for Strauss, won a turnover and the Springboks went right where Steyn dummied and accelerated for the try. 42-16 after 64 minutes.
Habana was next sent to the sin bin when the referee sent him there for a deliberate knock-on. The Samoans kicked the penalty out for a five-metre line-out. They split the line-out and the back group shuffled further back. The Springboks followed them, leaving a gap in the middle. Ti'i Paulo lobbed the ball into the gap and Junior Poluleuligaga, on for Su'a, nipped in, caught the ball and scored a try, clever in its effective simplicity. Paul Williams converted. 42-23 after 70 minutes.
The Springboks came back attacking and Louw was close and then even closer as he was stopped close to the line but reached out to ground the ball on the line. Pat Lambie converted. 49-23.
Louw was at it again, right at the line from a five-metre line-out. The flank played the ball back where cheerful Trevor Nyakane picked up and barged over. 56-23 and the final whistle went.
It was a wonderful Springbok performance. Just a pity Loftus Versfeld was so underpopulated, as it was a match thoroughly worth seeing.
Man of the Match: There was Tusi Pisi and several Springboks, a whole backline of them but our choice is Francois Louw, married last Sunday, back at training on the Monday and scoring two tries on Saturday. It was not just the tries. It was the direction he brought to the Springbok's play at the breakdown.
Moment of the Match: Take your pick of tries, especially Bryan Habana's 50th, but our choice is Junior Poluleuligaga's for its simple ingenuity.
Villain of the Match: Alesana Tuilagi got the red card but out villain is James So'oialo for his cowardly and thoroughly distasteful action against Adriaan Strauss.
For South Africa:
Tries: Habana 2, Louw 2, Engelbrecht, Basson, Steyn, Nyakane
Cons: Steyn 3, Lambie 2
Pens: Steyn 2
Tries: Paulo, Poluleuligaga
Cons: So'oialo, Williams
Pens: So'oialo 3
Yellow cards: Logovi'i Mulipola (Samoa, 28 - repeated infringements at the breakdown, killing the ball), Bryan Habana (South Africa, 70 - professional foul, deliberately knocking on the ball)
Red card: Alesana Tuilagi (Samoa, 58 - foul play, dangerous tackle)
South Africa: 15 Willie le Roux, 14 Bryan Habana, 13 JJ Engelbrecht, 12 Jean de Villiers (captain), 11 Bjorn Basson, 10 Morné Steyn, 9 Ruan Pienaar, 8 Pierre Spies, 7 Willem Alberts, 6 Francois Louw, 5 Flip van der Merwe, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Jannie du Plessis, 2 Adriaan Strauss, 1 Tendai Mtawarira.
Replacements: 16 Bismarck du Plessis, 17 Trevor Nyakane, 18 Coenie Oosthuizen, 19 Juandré Kruger, 20 Siya Kolisi, 21 Piet van Zyl, 22 Pat Lambie, 23 Jan Serfontein.
Samoa: 15 James So'oialo, 14 Alapati Leiua, 13 Paul Williams (captain), 12 Johnny Leota, 11 Alesana Tuilagi, 10 Tusi Pisi, 9 Jeremy Su'a, 8 Taiasina Tuifu'a, 7 Jack Lam, 6 Ofisa Treviranus, 5 Daniel Leo, 4 Filo Paulo, 3 Logovi'i Mulipola, 2 Ole Avei, 1 Sakaria Taulafo.
Replacements: 16 Ti'i Paulo, 17 Census Johnston, 18 James Johnston, 19 Kane Thompson, 20 Junior Poluleuligaga, 21 Brando Va'aulu, 22 Seilala Mapusua, 23 Alafoti Fa'osiliva.
Referee: Pascal Gauzère (France)
Assistant referees: Nigel Hennessy (Wales), JP Doyle (England)
TMO: Deon van Blommestein (South Africa)
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