Sunday, November 25, 2007

Boks Beat Wales Easy As 1234

Rugby World Champions, the South African Springboks, took a while to get warmed up at Cardiff, in chilly Wales, but once they had their rhythm they did the job. There were some nice touches, good support play and deft set pieces from the boys in green and gold.

The Boks were almost not the same team as the world cup squad; absent were the likes and legends of lineout man Victor Matfield, Mr Reliable Os du Rand, Danie Rossouw and the golden boot of Percy Montgomery. Montgomery's absence in particular was noticeable as Ruan Pienaar was not nearly as solid in defence; one of his fumbles led to a lucky try by Welshman Charvis at the close of the first half.

Going into the second half at 22-5, Wales seemed to gain momentum in the slippery and cold conditions.

Just 60-seconds after the Springbok Albert Van Den Berg came on the field (for Bakkies Botha) he was off again, sin-binned. Wales scored soon after. A resurgent Wales then came back to even up the scores; at one point they had closed the gap to 12-29. But Wales was haphazard, lacking direction and weak in defence.

The young South African Shark player, Kankowski, went through a hole in the Wales line easy-as-you please to extend the Boks lead, brining the final score to 34-12. The 77th minute sin-binning of nonplussed substitute prop Bismark du Plessis didn't help the Boks send their point home, but they nevertheless maintained their lead.

At the end of the game Bok captain John Smit, holding his infant son in his arms, and sporting a nasty bloodied eye, dedicated the win to coach Jake White, but conceded that the Boks had not played their best; using the word 'ugly' to describe aspects of it.

Highlights of the game included some brilliant flourishes by the likes of Bryan Habana, Schalk Burger and Francois Steyn.

The next game against the lions is a bit of a misnomer. It seems that increasingly, in both rugby and football, there is a tendency for local leagues to compete and distract from international games. Perhaps more money needs to be thrown into the international leagues.

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