Planet Rugby

Springboks outgun gutsy Samoans

09th June 2007 15:59

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Samoan centre Anitelela Tuilagi tackled by Bok fly-half Derick Hougaard

Showing too much pace and power the Springboks withstood an early onslaught and a late rally to race away to a 35-8 victory over Samoa in their one-off test at Ellis Park, Johannesburg, on Saturday.

The Boks outscored the Pacific tourists by five to one.

After South Africa's successes in the Super 14 and in the two Tests against England, people had begun to talk of South African rugby in tones of awe. Awe turned to awful on this breezy Saturday afternoon at lively Ellis Park when the Samoans came to play.

Now they must view the Springboks through different eyes, frowns relaxed. The Australians must feel an upsurge of hope and the New Zealanders will be brimming with confidence. They must be licking their lips at the prospect of playing in Cape Town next week and in Durban the week after that.

In the vogue of recent times this Springboks side would be labelled "weakened" or "understrength" but there was still supposed to be a lot of talent about to do better than that. The second half bordered on disgrace.

The line-outs were good and the scrummaging excellent but that is where it stopped. For the rest the Samoans were the ones who kept the ball far better and generally played with greater zest. They coped with close-in mauls especially well.

The match may well have had more meaning for them and their captain, wise in the world of rugby, Semo Sititi, and their coach, the great Michael Jones, were at pains to than the South African people and South African rugby for giving them this chance to prepare for the World Cup. Sititi said: "It was lekker for us. Baie dankie."

Jones said: "We are proud of our warriors."

Both men thought that they were on track in their preparations for the World Cup.

Samoa had a horrible time in the scrums. They were penalised four times and had Justin Va'a sent to the sin bin, as the referee did his best to keep scrumming legal and safe. They lost two scrums against the head. The irony was that they were heavier than the Springbok pack but their cohesion and technique were not good enough. They also did not quite have the speed of the Springboks outside of the forwards, relying on Tuilagi power to get anywhere and it was not enough, for the Springboks can tackle.

The Samoans did their war dance, the manu, before the kick-off which added to the festive nature of the afternoon, for there had been many colourful dancers to precede them.

The islanders then kicked off and took over the first part of the match as they dominated territory and possession and went through phase after phase. But two penalties in quick succession put the Springboks ahead. The second was a bit of gratuitous silliness as Sititi took aim and stamped on the back of Albert van den Berg's knee. Derick Hougaard goaled that.

But the Springboks battled at the kick-off and when Luke Watson was penalised, Gavin Williams kicked the penalty. Look at Gavin Williams and your heart swells with happy memories for his father is Bryan Williams one of the legends of New Zealand rugby, one of the best wings of all time.

The first scrum of the match came after 12 minutes. It was a Samoan ball but Va'a was immediately penalised. 6-3.

A penalty gave the Springboks a five-metre line-out. They threw deep to Skinstad, who was a great source of clean ball. Still airborne he played the ball back towards the fonts of the line-out into the arms of John Smit and the captain, playing his 45th consecutive Test, just got to the line for the try. This was the only try Hougaard converted.

After the Springboks had shoved the Samoans into pressure at a scrum, enterprising Enrico Januarie intercepted and played inside where Watson and Danie Rossouw carried it on down the right. Back the ball went left and eventually Wayne Julies lobbed a long pass over to JP Pietersen who had an easy passage to the line. 18-3 after 24 minutes.

The Springboks were close on the left when it seemed that Waylon Murray had to score. In this hectic period of attack which included penalties and line-outs, the Samoan scrumhalf Steven So'oialo was sent to the sin bin after the referee had warned his side, penalised for the seventh time, that they were not helping the game along at all.

The Springboks' third try came from a Samoan error. They overthrew at the line-out and Skinstad was up quickly to fall on the ball and secure possession. The Springboks went left and Frans Steyn dummied and got past two tacklers to score in the corner.

Moment after So'oialo had returned from the sin bin, Va'a replaced him. Sin bins were not all that profitable for the Springboks. They scored five points while So'oialo was there and none at all while Va'a was off.

Half-time came with the Springboks leading 23-8 and one wondered if the sleeping giant would waken to full life in the second half. This was not to be as he snuggled down and waited for the final siren.

Afterwards Jake White, the coach, who was not pleased with the effort, mentioned injuries as a fact contributing to the poor fare dished up.. Ashwin Willemse did not reappear after half-time. and during the half Enrico Januarie, Luke Watson and Wayne Julies needed replacing.

The second half started promisingly enough when Januarie broke and with Skinstad free on his outside chose to dummy and die. That was when he was injured and replaced by Ruan Pienaar.

The Samoans now enjoyed great advantage in territory and possession so that when South Africa scored two tries in six minutes it was against the run of play for the other 30 minutes of the half. After all the Samoans were oh-so close when Lome Fa'atau went for the corner but stuck a foot out in Waylon Murray's tackle.

The first came when Danie Rossouw won a turn-over in his own half and the Springboks spun the ball left where Pietersen swept through a gap and played to Pedrie Wannenburg who ran over a Samoan on his way to scoring.

The second came when the Springboks attacked from a line-out on their left. They went right where Percy Montgomery an in his 83rd Test, dummied close to the line and beat two defenders to score far out. He took over the kicking and goaled, the first South African to reach 700 points in Test rugby.

That made the score 35-3 with 216 minutes to play.

Samoa played during those 16 minutes, and after Skinstad had been sent to the sin bin they scored a try. After many phases they went from left to right and a long pass sent to the right sent sturdy Anitelela Tuilagi racing for the corner as Wannenburg covered.

No wonder Jones and Sititi were proud afterwards. Their "boys" certainly did not give up.

Man of the Match: Hard - and not because there is an embarrassment of riches. But in the end for resolute defence, sensible direction and two brilliant try-bearing passes we have chosen Wayne Julies.

Moment of the Match: Even harder. In fact too hard.

Villain of the MatchKane Thompson was silly to grab Johan Ackermann around the neck, to which Ackermann - understandably - objected, but their was no villainy in the incident.

The scorers:

For South Africa:

Tries: Smit, Pietersen, Steyn, Wannenburg, Montgomery

Cons: Hougaard, Montgomery

Pens: Hougaard 2

For Manu Samoa:

Try: Anitelela Tuilagi

Pen: Williams

Yellow cards: Steven So'oialo (Samoa, 28 - repeated infringements, hands in at ruck), Justin Va'a (Samoa, 39 - repeated infringements, dropping the scrum), Bobby Skinstad (South Africa, 74 - professional foul, hands in ruck)

Teams:

South Africa: 15 Frans Steyn, 14 Ashwin Willemse, 13 Waylon Murray, 12 Wayne Julies, 11 JP Pietersen, 10 Derick Hougaard, 9 Ricky Januarie, 8 Bob Skinstad, 7 Danie Rossouw, 6 Luke Watson, 5 Albert van den Berg, 4 Johan Ackermann, 3 BJ Botha, 2 John Smit (c), 1 Os du Randt.

Replacements: 16 Gary Botha, 17 Deon Carstens, 18 Johann Muller, 19 Pedrie Wannenburg, 20 Ruan Pienaar, 21 Jaque Fourie, 22 Percy Montgomery.

Samoa: 15 Gavin Williams, 14 Lome Fa'atau, 13 Anitelela Tuilagi, 12 Seilala Mapusua, 11 Alesana Tuilagi, 10 Loki Crichton, 9 Steven So'oialo, 8 Semo Sititi (c), 7 Justin Purdie, 6 Daniel Leo, 5 Filipo Levi, 4 Kane Thompson, 3 Census Johnston, 2 Mahonri Schwalger, 1 Justin Va'a.

Replacements: 16 Muliufi Salanoa, 17 Donald Kerslake, 18 Iosefa Tekori, 19 Alfie Vaeluaga, 20 Junior Poluleuligaga, 21 Elvis Sevealii, 22 David Levi.

Referee: Malcolm Changleng (Scotland)

Touch judges: Hugh Watkins (Wales), Simon McDowell (Ireland)

Television match official: Ed Murray (Scotland)

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