Magic man steers Boks to big win
Sat, 14 Jun 2014 16:22
Willie le Roux weaved his magic as South Africa scored an emphatic 38-16 win over Wales to start their Test season in glorious fashion.
What a joy - a match of six splendid tries!
And it could have been more, especially if the Springboks had decided to continue with their deadly mix of forceful battering and creative genius, but after 52 minutes the game itself became too enjoyable to be taken too seriously.
Wales started well enough but that start lasted two minutes. They attacked, Dan Biggar dropped a goal and Wales led 3-0.
After that the match was the Springbok fifedom. They ruled. They battered Wales and then they had the creative genius of Willie le Roux to produce exciting art. The fullback, who looks so ordinary until he bursts into flame, had a hand in four of the Springboks' five tries.
Straight after Biggar's drop goal, the Springboks attacked as Jan Serfontein charged and Le Roux, Morné Steyn, Victor Matfield., Bakkies Botha, Francois Louw and Fourie du Preez attacked the Welsh line as the Men of Harlech stood together in brave defence and won a turnover to preserve their lead.
But then the Springboks went left and Le Roux came into the line. there was defence enough to keep the invaders out but Le Roux chipped into the Welsh goal and Habana got to the ball before the dead-ball line and the Welsh. Steyn converted, as he did every time he aimed at goal. 7-3 after 7 minutes.
Le Roux was not only creative. He was a tower on defence as he jumped up high time and again to field high kicks of Wales. He jumped for one and Jamie Roberts grabbed his legs while he was airborne. The referee sent Roberts to the sin bin.
The scrums, so wonky against the World XV, were good in Durban, better than the Welsh scrums. Wales were penalised and the Springboks opted for a five-metre line-out. But they did not do what was expected. They did not drive a mastodon maul over the Welsh line. Instead they threw deep to Duane Vermeulen. Gurthrö Steenkamp, playing his 50th Test, peeled off and drove at the line. Fourie du Preez gave a pass to a charging Vermeulen and he bashed through Welsh defenders to score. 14-3 after 17 minutes.
Wales got into Springbok land again and again Biggar dropped a goal. 14-6 after 19 minutes - two goals to South Africa and two drop goals for Wales.
Le Roux came into the line again as the Springboks went wide left. Le Roux ran wider and drew two defenders onto him before sending Habana over right in the corner - the great wing's 55th Test try. Steyn converted from touch. 21-6.
The game still belonged to the Springboks and prop Jannie du Plessis wandered off on a strong break. Steyn chipped and Serfontein and Mike Phillips dived for the ball in the Welsh in-goal. Serfontein got his fingers to the ball but he could not exert downward pressure.
The Springboks stayed on the attack and had two further chances to score tries, till, going right, Le Roux chipped, chased, gathered and then as big George North tried to haul him in Le Roux kept him at arm's length and scored. 28-6.
On half-time Steenkamp was penalised - the only penalty against the Springboks in the first half - and Biggar goaled. 28-9 at half-time.
At the start of the second half Lood de Jager came on for Bakkies Botha who had, apparently hurt an Achilles and by the end of the match both sides had emptied benches, which may have contributed to the looseness of the second half.
Roberts was penalised and Steyn goaled to make it 31-9 and then new cap Cornal Hendricks scored a try. The Springboks went wide left and then wide right with Le Roux in the line. He gave to Hendricks who managed to beat off the defence of North to score in the right corner. 38-9 after 52 minutes.
After this Wales came more and more into the game and the Springboks did not score again.
From penalties Wales had three successive five-metre line-outs. Twice they bashed at the Springboks without making headway and the third time they lost the line-out.
But they were close to scoring when Gareth Davies, the substitute scrumhalf, was boxed in and felt he could not pass. Instead he raced downfield on a long swerving run. He gave to Biggar and when Serfontein tackled Biggar the flyhalf passed back to Davies who went over but the pass was clearly forward.
When Wales did score it was from even further out, suggesting that using surprise was more effective than brute force.
Wales won a turnover off Vermeulen about 15 metres from their line. Short passes got the ball to Alex Cuthbert who set off for a brilliant swerving run to score Wales's try. 38-16 with 10 minutes to play.
A sad sight for the Springboks was a disconsolate Johan Goosen limping off the field.
The Springboks ended the match attacking from two five-metre line-outs but the Welsh withstood the attack.
Man of the Match: There were several fine performances but the choice of man was easy - the thrilling, skilful magician Willie le Roux.
Moment of the Match: It was an easy choice - Willie le Roux's own try. The vision and nerve made it brilliant.
Villain of the Match: Not one in sight.
For South Africa:
Tries: Habana 2, Vermeulen, Le Roux, Hendricks
Cons: Steyn 5
DGs: Biggar 2
Yellow card: Jamie Roberts (Wales, 13 - foul play, playing a man in the air)
South Africa: 15 Willie le Roux, 14 Cornal Hendricks, 13 JP Pietersen, 12 Jan Serfontein, 11 Bryan Habana, 10 Morné Steyn, 9 Fourie du Preez, 8 Duane Vermeulen, 7 Willem Alberts, 6 Francois Louw, 5 Victor Matfield (captain), 4 Bakkies Botha ,3 Jannie du Plessis, 2 Bismarck du Plessis, 1 Gurthrö Steenkamp.
Replacements: 16 Schalk Brits, 17 Tendai Mtawarira, 18 Coenie Oosthuizen, 19 Lodewyk de Jager, 20 Schalk Burger, 21 Ruan Pienaar, 22 Johan Goosen, 23 Lwazi Mvovo.
Wales: 15 Liam Williams, 14 Alex Cuthbert, 13 Jonathan Davies, 12 Jamie Roberts, 11 George North, 10 Dan Biggar, 9 Mike Phillips, 8 Taulupe Faletau, 7 Aaron Shingler, 6 Dan Lydiate, 5 Alun Wyn Jones (captain), 4 Luke Charteris, 3 Adam Jones, 2 Ken Owens, 1 Gethin Jenkins.
Replacements: 16 Matthew Rees, 17 Paul James, 18 Samson Lee, 19 Ian Evans, 20 Josh Turnbull, 21 Gareth Davies, 22 James Hook, 23 Matthew Morgan.
Referee: Romain Poite (France)
Assistant referees: Steve Walsh (Australia), Francisco Pestrana (Argentina)
TMO: Graham Hughes (England)
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