IT wasn’t the most comprehensive of Test victories, but the Springboks left Mr Price Kings Park in Durban a relieved team after they beat England by 22-17 in the first Test of the Castle Incoming Tour this aftrenoon.
The win was the Springboks’ eighth consecutive victory over England, dating back to November 2006.
The Boks upped the tempo in the second half and outscored the visitors by two tries to one. Their performance after the break – the half-time score was 6-6 – was very good and new Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer said he was relieved that they had started the season on a winning note.
England applied a lot of pressure in a first half that never really got going. Shortly after the break though Morne Steyn scored the first try, while new Bok captain Jean de Villiers crossed on the hour mark.
Steyn, who kicked four from seven, missed both conversions, but was successful with four penalty goals. Ben Foden scored the visitors’ only try, after the hooter had sounded, while their flyhalf, Owen Farrell, slotted four penalty goals.
The Boks’ defence was superb, while the pack also performed very well, especially at scrum time.
“At some stages I really thought we played great rugby, we moved the ball around and I was happy with the result, but we butchered one or two tries and you need to finish those in Test match rugby,” said Meyer.
“I think that this team has been so great from the start, they have got very high standards, so although there were some hard words they knew that they had to step up in the second half.
“I thought that England were brillant in the way that they put pressure on the nine [scrumhalf], and they pressed very hard in midfield so we made a few changes to our tactical kicking in the second half which worked.
“I thought the first 20 minutes they pressed very hard and we should have played more tactically but the plan was always to open up the game in the second half.
“I thought England’s tactical kicking was much better than ours in the first half, they put the ball in behind us and moved us around so we couldn’t get any quick ball or momentum, but once we changed things in the second half it went much better.”
The only real injury concern is Bok fullback Zane Kirchner, who injured his knee and was replaced at half-time by Pat Lambie. A few other Boks, like Bryan Habana, Jannie du Plessis and Francois Hougaard, also got knocks during the game.
Four players made their Springbok debuts on Saturday evening – locks Eben Etzebeth and Juandre Kruger, flank Marcell Coetzee and prop Coenie Oosthuizen.-www.sarugby.net