Roso Soeman from South Africa (Springboks) in action with Giorgi Kveseladze and Tedo Abzhandadze from Georgia during their first test in Loftus Versfeld in Pretoria on July 2, 2021. Photo: Felix Dlangamandla / Daily Maverick
South Africa – Tests: Aphelele Fassi, Bongi Mbonambi, Cobus Reinach, Kwagga Smith, Herschel Jantjies, Malcolm Marx. Conversions: Handre Pollard (4), Elton Jantjies.
The last victory was never as important as the performance for the new Bok trainer Jacques Nienaber. And in every way he could be satisfied with his team’s first outing since winning the 2019 Rugby World Cup (RWC) final.
Six attempts without one, standard dominance and increasing security in the game after an expected scratchy start were all positive signs. Serious injuries were also not visible, although Lock Eben Etzebeth left the field with a rib injury as a precautionary measure.
Like the success at RWC 2019 on a sovereign scrum, a smooth line-out, a watertight defense and a strong bench So was the win in Friday’s fight against the aggressive Eastern Europeans.
It took almost half an hour for the Boks to start putting constant pressure on Georgia after a patchy opening was riddled with handling errors and poor options. The guests put the world champion under pressure, especially when the breakdown occurred, and were rewarded with several penalties, which made the incoherent opening even worse.
“We didn’t have a marker for 20 months, but now we have one. We can build on that and work on that, « said coach Jacques Nienaber after the game.
» Our discipline was poor at the beginning, but that was thanks to the pressure that Georgia put on us and which led to the penalties. «
But when South Africa settled down and started turning the screw, Georgia could only limit the damage because it simply didn’t have the weapons to stop the green wave advancing on their line.
The Lelos, as Georgia is known, started well with an early penalty but quickly rocked back as debutante Bok-wing Apheele Fassi skinned the cover defense with ease. It was Fassi’s first touch of the game and that gave the Boks an early 5-3 lead, but it only served to encourage the tourists.
They won numerous punctures for putting pressure on the slightly passive Bok defense . Flyhalf Tedo Abzhandadze added two more penalties to his earlier goal and after half an hour the guests were unlikely to be leading 9-5.
But the Boks showed no signs of panic. When they started winning collisions, the penalties followed. Instead of stepping on goal, captain Siya Kolisi decided to put the ball in touch and set up rolling clubs.
Initially, Georgia’s defense held the boks in check with a bow or hook. But her constant injury eventually forced umpire Mike Adamson to send Beka Saginadze off the flank and into the sin container. With 14 men on the field, the Boks fell.
First, hooker Bongi Mbonambi fell over a mouth for an attempt from behind and then the Boks struck from the depths after the restart. They worked the ball to the left, where Fassi played a crucial role, played a difficult pass from full-back Willie le Roux, found his balance and struck forward where a supporting scrum gathered and scored Cobus Reinach.
The deficit of 10 Scoring at halftime might have been flattering, but after the break it was all of South Africa as the strikers riot through set pieces. The defense was mostly fighting for cohesion and some golden chances for wing Rosko Specman were missed.
Meanwhile Georgia was reduced almost entirely to the defense – a task they did well. But they couldn’t legally close all the loopholes and penalties increased, leading to more punches and scrubs and more tries.
# 8 Kwagga Smith shot from the back of the scrum, substitute scrum half Herschel Jantjies shot up close and reserve hooker Malcolm Marx added another one out of a mouth and the last attempt of the evening.
After that, Captain Siya Kolisi said that their only focus was on Georgia and that they were not trying to get anything in front of the British & Irish Lions for their three series of tests soon to be launched.
And it’s true. The Boks played according to the same blueprint as at RWC 2019 and achieved another positive result. The template is visible to everyone.
However, it is not that easy to find ways to stop this, especially since the boks improve as they play more. DM
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