Cape Town – The Springboks made a winning start to the mid-year international season, but their performance against the World XV raised some concerns at Newlands on Saturday.
Nick Mallett, who described his World XV team as a “pick-up side”, was clearly impressed by the way his forwards dominated at times.
“To walk the Bok scrum like they (the World XV pack) did at one stage of the second half, I thought was a tremendous effort from our pack,” Mallett said at the post-match press conference.
“The two locks, Alistair Hargreaves and Juandre Kruger, did really well in the line-outs.”
None of the Springboks front-row forwards did their reputations proud and Mallett singled out his prop Pat Cilliers for praise instead.
He said the six Test-capped Springbok scrummed “very well” when he joined the fray as a second-half replacement.
“I was happy with our set-pieces, especially since we didn’t have much time to prepare.
“Our scrumming was especially good, and thought Pat did very well when he came on.”
Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer would have had serious concerns about the frailty of the Bok scrum but he did well to mask his uneasiness.
Instead, he consoled himself by mentioning that statistically the South Africans had the best scrum internationally last season.
“We had the best scrum in the world last year, and that is not just me saying that, it is what the statistics told us,” said Meyer.
“We will have to look at where we went wrong (in the scrums) and work on that. I thought Juandre did well for the World XV, but I was happy with the line-outs as it was an area we were worried about ahead of this game.
“We weren’t at our best on this occasion, and part of that was down to the fact that many of the guys had not played together in a while, and we only had three practises beforehand.”
The Boks were really slow out of the blocks and trailed 0-7 after only six minutes play.
However, Meyer said the Boks were surprised by their opponents’ structured play early in the contest, even though they too had limited preparation time.
“I did expect more of a Barbarian type approach from them but they made it difficult for us and played proper Test rugby.
“This was good for us in preparation for the matches that are to come. There were some harsh words at half-time and I’m very happy we didn’t concede any points in the second half.
Springbok stop-gap captain Victor Matfield was happy with his return to the international stage after two years of retirement.
“On a personal level it was good to be back playing for the Springboks again,” Matfield said.
“It always remains a massive honour. In the beginning we did not execute well, but once we managed to get into their half, we played well.
“It was a very good World XV, they gave us a lot of problems in the beginning.” – Sapa