Boks fight back to earn draw
MATCH REPORT: The Springboks scored two tries in the final ten minutes to help them earn a 31-31 draw against the Barbarians at Wembley Stadium on Saturday.
It was a draw, probably in the Barbarians' favour. But, credit to the Springboks, they came back and in eight late minutes scored two tries to make the draw a reality.
It was in fact a match of much energy with a willingness to keep the ball going, regardless where on the field. That not one penalty was aimed at goal in the match tells its own story and redounds to the Springboks' credit for the penalty count was 12-2 in their favour. They opted to keep playing even from penalties within easy scoring positions.
The teams each scored five tries and each converted three tries.
Strangely enough the Barbarians - chosen from three countries - showed better co-ordination than the Springboks, except in the scrums where the Springboks were better. Above all the Barbarians handled better and had better rhythm in the backs and they won the tackle hands down. In the lead-up to their last try they won three turnovers off the Springboks, which must have left England's players licking their lips.
It was strange that Robert du Preez of Western Province could more easily find his Australasian backs than Pat Lambie could find his.
On defence tiny Sergeal Petersen found the massive bulk of Taqele Naiyaravoro a nightmare. The Barbarians got the ball to their effective left wing whenever they could, which was too much for Petersen even when he was present. And Francois Venter's stand-up, 'chest to chest' tackles were not effective.
Both sides ran but it was the Barbarians who scored first when fullback Melani Nanai forced himself through Jesse Kriel and Jamba Ulengo to score. 5-0 after 4 minutes.
In this early part of the game the Springboks struggled for possession but when they got it from a line-out they found the Barbarians languidly waiting, making no contact as Pieter-Steph du Toit caught the ball, turned and galloped over for a try. 5-0.
In the first half twice the Springboks turned penalties into five-metre line-outs. This time the Barbarians repelled the Springboks and then their hands foiled their own attacking potential.
The third try started with the Springboks on the attack. Oupa Mahoje, wide on the left, went weaving with the ball in one hand but on the Barbarians 22 it led to a turn over and there was Matt Faddes running down the right wing. He gave inside to Andy Ellis who beat Kriel on the inside and ran 40 metres to score - a great effort that left him gasping for breath as his team-mates came to make a fuss of him. Du Preez converted. 12-5 after 20 minutes.
Another penalty gave another five-metre line-out to the Springboks. They mauled, and made ground, when suddenly Roelof Smit burst from the midst of them and charged over to score. 12-12 after 24 minutes.
For their next try the Barbarians attacked on the left where Seta Tamanivalu broke past Venter and gave to massive Naiyaravoro who ran over Petersen and was too strong for Kriel before dotting down with one hand in the left corner. That was on the stroke of half-time and the Barbarians led 17-12.
The Springboks scored first in the second half. Janse van Rensburg broke and inside their own half the Springboks went right and Lambie gave to Sergeal Petersen who started running, ball in two hand with Ruan Combrinck to his right when he dummied Naiyaravoro and accelerated and raced round to score under the posts. That gave the Springboks the lead at 19-17 after 44 minutes.
The Barbarians were close to a remarkable score. Janse van Rensburg was penalised for a high tackle near the touchline on the Barbarians right. They lined up in a long line across the field with a gathering on the left touchline. Du Preez kicked a high punt to come down just at the Springboks posts. Du Toit got the ball in his in-goal but lost it when Luke Whitelock tackled him. Whitelock claimed a try but the referee consulted the TMO and it became clear that, in tackling Du Toit, Whitelock had knocked on.
Akker van der Merwe, who had a good game in the loose, won a turnover for the Barbarians and they attacked down the left. Ellis picked a pass up off his toes and kicked downfield. Running back Ulengo gathered but the impetus of his run took him inside his in-goal and he kicked put of his in-goal but not into touch, rather into the arms of Naiyaravoro. The Barbarians immediately counterattacked and Luke Morahan scored in the right corner, whence Richard Mo'unga converted. 24-19 after 56 minutes.
The Barbarians scored again when three turnovers in quick succession set them attacking down the left. They went wide right and again Morahan scored and again Mo'unga converted. 31-19 with 12 minutes to play and the impetus with the Barbarians. A Barbarian victory seemed likely.
But the Springboks attacked down the left. Ulengo had an overlap wand when confronted gave inside to Venter who scored. 31-26 with 9 minutes to play.
The Springboks attacked on the left. Nizaam Carr had a run and when Mo'unga caught him he gave to Ulengo. The Barbarians were penalised and Lambie kicked out for a line-out. The Springboks mauled and Ulengo was close. They went wide right where Carr gave a great pass to Janse van Rensburg who managed to evade Van der Merwe to score far out. 31-31 and a conversion to come. But the kick was wide.
There were still four minutes to play and the Barbarians attacked on the right but under pressure Morahan knocked on into in-goal and that ended a fine match.
Man of the Match: It's a draw and so let's choose one from each side. For Barbarians wing Taqele Naiyaravoro was obviously prominent which he could do quite easily and there was the perky captain of the day Andy Ellis who again underlined the importance of quick, decisive scrumhalf play. For South Africa there was Pieter-Steph du to in the pack and Rohan Janse van Rensburg. After soul searching we have chosen Andy Ellis and Rohan Janse van Rensburg.
Moment of the Match: Sergeal Petersen's astonishing try for the Springboks and Luke Morahan's first try with the long build-up.
Villain of the Match: The suggestion is absurd. There is none in a match played like this.
Tries: Nanai, Ellis, Naiyaravoro, Morahan 2
Cons: Du Preez, Mo'unga 2
For South Africa:
Tries: Du Toit, Smit, Petersen, Venter, Janse van Rensburg
Cons: Lambie 3
Barbarians: 15 Melani Nanai, 14 Matt Faddes, 13 Seta Tamanivalu, 12 Richard Buckman, 11 Taqele Naiyaravoro, 10 Robert du Preez, 9 Andy Ellis, 8 Luke Whitelock, 7 Jordan Taufua, 6 Brad Shields, 5 Michael Fatialofa, 4 Martin Muller, 3 Paddy Ryan, 2 Armand van der Merwe, 1 Reggie Goodes.
Replacements: 16 Andrew Ready, 17 Schalk van der Merwe, 18 Toby Smith, 19 Sam Carter, 20 Ruan Ackermann, 21 Nic Stirzaker, 22 Richard Mo'unga, 23 Luke Morahan.
South Africa: 15 Jesse Kriel, 14 Sergeal Petersen, 13 Francois Venter, 12 Rohan Janse van Rensburg, 11 Jamba Ulengo, 10 Pat Lambie (captain), 9 Rudy Paige, 8 Nizaam Carr, 7 Oupa Mohoje, 6 Roelof Smit, 5 Pieter-Steph du Toit, 4 RG Snyman, 3 Lourens Adriaanse, 2 Malcolm Marx, 1 Tendai Mtawarira.
Replacements: Bongi Mbonambi, 17 Lizo Gqoboka, 18 Trevor Nyakane, 19 Eben Etzebeth, 20 Jean-Luc du Preez, 21 Piet van Zyl, 22 Tiaan Schoeman, 23 Ruan Combrinck.
Referee: Mike Fraser (New Zealand)
Assistant referees: Paul Williams (New Zealand), Shuhei Kubo (Japan)
Television match official: Graham Hughes (England)