All Blacks thrash sorry France
New Zealand stroll to an emphatic 61-10 win over France in the second Test in Wellington.
Saturday, 09 June 2007
Argentina 24-6 Italy
Australia 49-0 Fiji
New Zealand 61-10 France
S Africa 35-8 Samoa
The great disparity between South Africa’s top side and the second string was shown as the Springboks made heavy weather of beating Samoa 35-8 in their rugby test match played at Ellis Park on Saturday.
The Springboks, fielding a side full of alternates and with no tried-and-tested combinations, scored five tries to one but struggled throughout to impose their will on the strongly-built islanders.
The only area in which the Springboks were completely dominant was in the scrums but for the rest there were some serious deficiencies -- once again highlighting the need to create match opportunities for the next level of players.
The Boks’ synchronization was poor throughout, their handling wretched, they tended to put boot to ball too readily, suffered from “white line fever” and gave their coaching staff plenty to think of with badly handled kick-offs and with the way they struggled (especially in the second half) to get and control possession.
However, it would be churlish to deny Samoa some credit for the role they played in disrupting their much-vaunted opponents in foreign conditions; especially as they played two periods of ten minutes a man down after scrumhalf Steven So’oialo and prop Justin Va’a had been yellow-carded for repeated offences.
Semi Sititi’s side were also not at full strength and always tried hard to move the ball wide -- probably deserving a better result given they way they often had the Boks at sixes and sevens (resulting in Bob Skinstad being yellow-carded for killing the ball illegally near the end) with hard running and slick passing.
NO STANDOUT PERFORMANCES
There were no standout individual performances from the Boks and the blazing controversy over Luke Watson’s selection fizzled out in the 50th minute when the Stormers captain had to leave the field (replaced by Pedrie Wannenburg) because of an injured shoulder.
Watson tried hard to stay as close to the ball as possible but blotted his report card with a bad knock-on and by losing the ball right under the Samoan posts, finally failing to provoke the superlatives his backers would have been hoping for.
Samoa were up against it in the scrums but it took the Boks 19 minutes to get their first try; John Smit riding a wave of forward pressure after two penalties had been kicked to the corner.
Next Samoa scrumhalf Steven So’oialo made a horrid error when his little back-flip went straight to Ricky Januarie and the nuggety little No 9 ran strongly, received support on the inside from Watson and Danie Rossouw, before the ball was swung wide to the other side of the field -- Wayne Julies putting a try on a plate for JP Pietersen with a well-weighted pass over the top.
And when Bob Skinstad won the ball on the ground, after a long Samoa lineout throw had gone awry, to set up Francois Steyn for the Boks’ third try (again after precision passing by Julies) it seemed the visitors were headed for a thrashing.
The Springboks led 23-3 in the 32nd minute but then lost focus completely and did not score again until the 58th minute -- and then through a somewhat fortuitous try by Wannenburg.
Scottish referee Malcolm Changleng, who verged on the punctilious throughout, clearly called “release seven!” to Rossouw in a ruck but then allowed the big flank to steal the ball and set in motion the counter attack, sparked by a strong run by JP Pietersen, that saw Wannenburg trundling up the middle in support and sending Lome Fa’atau tumbling head-over-heels as he crashed over.
Derick Hougaard’s kicking was off-key, missing three successive conversions after having goaled his first three kicks, but with a lead of 28-3 the Boks had at least set the scoreboard moving again after having been outplayed for much of the third quarter.
Percy Montgomery had come onto the field to replace Julies and was soon into the action -- scoring a try wide out that brought up his 700th point in international rugby.
The fullback turned his touch-down into a goal with a pinpoint conversion to make it 35-3 with 15 minutes to play but instead of the Boks finding some rhythm and accuracy it was Samoa who deservedly had the last word as their slick passing and angled running constructed a fine try for a man who had troubled the South Africans for the duration of the match -- outside centre Anitelela Tuilagi.
In the end it was a shabby performance by the Boks but, ironically, one that should stand them in good stead ahead of the Tri-Nations (which starts next Saturday with SA up against Australia at Newlands) in that it gave coach White the opportunity to give most of his fringe players a much-needed hit-out.
South Africa (23) 35:
Tries by John Smit (19 min), JP Pietersen (23 min), Francois Steyn (32 min), Pedrie Wannenburg (58 min) and Percy Montgomery (63 min). Derick Hougaard kicked a conversion and two penalties and Montgomery a conversion. Samoa (3) 8:
Try by Anitelela Tuilaga (76 min). Gavin Williams kicked a penalty.
ABSA Boktown - Soweto