The Springboks Ross Cronje breaks the French defense while on his way to scoring a try during the Test match played at the Loftus Stadium. Photo: KIM LUDBROOK/EPA
JOHANNESBURG - As debuts go it was a dream one for Springbok No 9 Ross Cronje.

Not only did the Boks win to kick off the 2017 season on a high on Saturday, but the 27-year-old also scored a try – and a memorable one at that.

With 20 minutes to go and the Boks having just gone 23-14 up after being awarded a debatable penalty try, Cronje’s five-pointer on 61 minutes virtually put an end to France’s challenge at Loftus Versfeld. Eventually the home team ran out 37-14 victors.

A training ground move where captain and No 8 Warren Whiteley called a long lineout ball to himself and then pushed the ball back and down to a charging Cronje, who ran in untouched, worked a treat.

“We trained it during the week, but it didn’t work out so well so we’re very happy that it came off in the game,” said a delighted Cronje who, along with Raymond Rhule, Andries Coetzee and Courtnall Skosan, was on debut.

Whiteley was also pleased the move worked out so perfectly. “It’s so special to see guys you’ve known for years, you’ve seen them grow, make their debut, and be a part of such a special moment,” he said.

“To see the joy on everyone’s faces (when he scored) but every try was celebrated today. Ross performed amazingly on debut, but pretty much everyone played well, everyone did their part.”

Cronje said it was a day he’d remember for a very long time. “It was everything and more. The boys rocked up, they stuck to the plan the coaches set out for us and the forwards did an unbelievable job which allowed the backs to play a bit of running rugby.

“I was a bit nervous ahead of the game, but once we got warmed up and I felt the ball in my hands there was more excitement than anything else.”

@jacq_west

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