Boks rally to pip England in first test

Written by Rob Otto (robdylan)

Posted in :Original Content, Springboks on 11 Jun 2012 at 08:00
Tagged with : , , , , , , , ,

Heyneke Meyer got his Springbok coaching tenure off to a solid start in Durban on Saturday evening, with his new-look side recording a 22-17 win over England that, in reality, was probably more emphatic than the scoreboard would have you believe.

With three debutants in the pack, as well as limited time to get to know each other ahead of the test, it was probably to be expected that the Boks would take a while to gel. The first half, certainly, lacked much to write home about from a Springbok point of view, with the slightly more cohesive England pack shading the breakdown contest and robbing the Boks of any continuity. That coupled with a wee bit of indecision and some aimless kicking from the Bok halfbacks saw the home side unable to apply much scoreboard pressure in the first 40.

Two penalties apiece was all that this half dished up, although the unusually wayward Morne Steyn did miss an opportunity to give his side the lead with a third penalty on the stroke of half-time.

Meyer, though, wasn’t afraid to make the big calls when they were needed, though and his decision to send Pat Lambie out in place of Zane Kirchner after the break paid immediate dividends. The Boks proceeded to control possession after some harsh words from the coach at half time, with Morne Steyn benefiting from a great build up to go over for the match’s first try, after 48 minutes. The missed conversion left the score poised at 11-6 to the Boks, but with the home side enjoying something of a purple patch in that third quarter, it wasn’t long before they scored again. Captain Jean de Villiers, courageous on defence all evening against the barnstorming Manu Tuilagi, combined well with JP Pietersen to race in for his side’s second try on the hour mark and having scored twice in just over 10 minutes, the Boks should have been out of sight.

Steyn, though, conspired to miss his third successive kick at posts in fluffing the conversion, leaving the visitors with just a 10-point deficit as the final quarter of the match began. Attacking the Boks with a renewed sense of purpose, Owen Farrell duly struck twice, with penalties in the 63rd and 66th minute bringing his team back within 4 points. The South Africans, to their credit, refused to panic and with a number of replacements on the field breathing new life into the effort, fought back strongly to set Steyn up for two more opportunities of his own, both of which were converted to restore the 10-point lead.

England’s try came in the final movement of the game, with winger Ben Foden capping off a pretty good all-round showing by diving over in the right-hand corner after the hooter had already sounded. Farrell’s missed conversion saw the Boks win by 5, but had Morne Steyn’s kicking boots not let him down halfway through the match, one feels that the score difference may have been a little more reflective of the Bok dominance, particularly in the second half.

Both sides will have taken much from this first encounter and with England’s tails sure to be up after their late fightback, the Boks should be prepared for a total onslaught in Johannesburg this weekend as their visitors throw everything into rescuing the series. Meyer and his team, though, will know that they achieved a pass mark in their first test, but can only get better – very much better – from here.


South Africa – Tries: Morne Steyn, Jean de Villiers. Penalties: Steyn (4).

England – Try: Ben Foden. Penalties: Owen Farrell (4).


  • Pienaar was impressive at scrummy and had one little dropped ball to detract from an otherwise masterclass showing at scrummy. Saturday’s game definitely proved that Hougaard’s best position is on the wing!

  • Comment 1, posted at 11.06.12 08:19:54 by ChrisS Reply
  • I was an all round poor game. I’m hoping to see a much improved performance this weekend.

  • Comment 2, posted at 11.06.12 08:26:59 by Pokkel Reply
    Friend of SharksworldCompetition Winner Author
  • Hougaard is much more suited to play scrummy in the franatic level of SupeRugby but at test level he isn’t level headed enough yet, needs to mature a bit more, I thought Ruan was great when he came on.

  • Comment 3, posted at 11.06.12 08:37:30 by KingRiaan Reply

  • Very disappointing showing from Hougaard. I’m a big fan and he just seemed indeceisive and hesitant. And the delays in building up a tail on the rucks so he could have more time to kick, and then being almost charged down anyway, it didn’t help his case.

    Put him on the wing and Pienaar to scrummy.

  • Comment 4, posted at 11.06.12 08:38:43 by StevieS Reply
  • @ChrisS (Comment 1) : The most frustrating about Pienaar is how long he takes to get the ball to the backline at the ruck/tackle area.

    His kicks from the base were eons better than Houghaard’s.

    Oh well, if all else fails, Lambie proved that he could also be used as a backup scrummie 😀

  • Comment 5, posted at 11.06.12 08:43:20 by FireTheLooser Reply

  • BOKKE! How great was it to watch our boys in the green and gold!
    JDV must have had the game of his life! Fantastic to see Ruan and Frans back in the the G&G too 🙂 We’re just going to get better and better ..yeah!

  • Comment 6, posted at 11.06.12 08:44:35 by Just a Fan Reply

    Just a Fan
  • I’d like to see stats for this game…Rapport gave Bismarck a 5 – saying he a quiet outing!?!? And some more ridiculous ratings..

  • Comment 7, posted at 11.06.12 08:59:06 by Ice Reply
    Competition Winner Ice
  • @FireTheLooser (Comment 5) : I felt that Pienaar was quicker to the breakdowns than Hougaard was. Hougaard was charged down twice using that ruck “tail” and almost a third time as well.

    Pienaar got in and passed the ball quickly when it was available. He had one delay and fumbled it but apart from that looked good.

  • Comment 8, posted at 11.06.12 09:08:40 by ChrisS Reply
  • @Ice (Comment 7) : I thought he played well enough to get a 8 or 9..but even sa rugby rated the players low..

  • Comment 9, posted at 11.06.12 09:40:02 by shaniboi Reply

  • @ChrisS (Comment 8) : that ruck tail irritated me and it was not very effective either – at least not in Hougaards case..that one player nearly chased down the kick everytime, despite this train.

  • Comment 10, posted at 11.06.12 09:43:34 by Ice Reply
    Competition Winner Ice
  • @Ice (Comment 7) :

    FYI there is a Bok ratings thread!! 😉 😆

  • Comment 11, posted at 11.06.12 09:58:32 by wpw Reply
  • @Ice (Comment 10) : Agreed Ice. I seem to recall the crowd actually started moaning when they set one up. We just seemed to set it up so slowly, and then, like you said, it almost got charged down anyway 🙄

  • Comment 12, posted at 11.06.12 10:03:30 by StevieS Reply
  • @shaniboi (Comment 9) : I have no prob with the low – but you cannot give Spies and Bis both 5!

  • Comment 13, posted at 11.06.12 10:04:27 by Ice Reply
    Competition Winner Ice
  • First game back – let’s give the guys some slack.

    Can you imagine the pressure on Hougaard, knowing he is stepping into the shoes of one of the greatest ever? Let’s give him some time before writing him off as a scrumhalf.

  • Comment 14, posted at 11.06.12 10:05:32 by Big Fish Reply
    Big Fish
  • @Big Fish (Comment 14) : Added to that, his forwards lack of ruck attendance in the first half just added to that pressure.

  • Comment 15, posted at 11.06.12 10:27:32 by vanmartin Reply
    Friend of Sharksworld Author
  • @vanmartin (Comment 15) : I used ‘added’ twice in the same sentence. I can like to speak good. 😳

  • Comment 16, posted at 11.06.12 10:50:28 by vanmartin Reply
    Friend of Sharksworld Author
  • @Ice (Comment 10) : He was charged down twice despite the tail and the third time he was millimetres away from beng charged down. I also felt that the pace of his pass was too slow when compared to Pienaar and the English scrummy!

  • Comment 17, posted at 11.06.12 12:05:47 by ChrisS Reply

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