It was only appropriate that the first game of rugby at the iconic 2010 World Cup venue Moses Mabhida Stadium was one full of tries, and that was to be the case as the SA A side downed the flair-filled Barbarians 36-28.
It was a game for the individuals in the SA A team to try and shine, and there were a few that must have caught the eye of Springbok coach Allister Coetzee, but on the night, the win would still have tasted sweet.
With very little on the line for the SA A side, and even less for the French Barbarians, the mantra for the evening under the Moses Mabhida arch was to entertain, and it was the visitors who were first into their work.
Some slick handling and a few audacious offloads in the first couple of minutes saw the Barbarians knocking on the SA side’s line, only for the scrumhalf Yann Lesgourgues to sneak the ball over the line from inches out. Sharks old boy Fred Michalak added the extras.
The locals soon saw what was required in this exhibition game as a tasty inside pass saw Lwazi Mvovo break away downfield, and he was forced to throw the ball to Makazole Mapimpi, who was hauled into touch.
The home team scragged the ball back, however, and Mvovo made amends by slicing through the line for the SA A side to get on the board.
The too-ing and fro-ing continued as Michalak snuck over for a try of his own, all within 14 minutes of an energetic half.
Once things had settled a bit, and the feeling-out period was over, it was Mapimpi who got his revenge by taking a pass off a great Franco Marais break to make it 14-12, with the conversion missed by Lionel Cronjé.
The spark was finally ignited as the offloads flowed, Cronjé with another good break from a lineout, offloading at the last minute to Sikhumbuzo Notshe to score in the corner and give the SA A team the lead after 24 minutes.
More lineout moves saw Harold Vorster over as Uzair Cassiem dummied one way and then passed the other to send the centre away.
Perhaps getting a little too overzealous with the speculative offloads and passes, the SA A side threw a try away as Anthony Belleau crossed the line for the French after picking up a loose pass thrown by Cassiem.
The second half saw the Barbarians snatch the lead back through some typical Michalak magic as he threaded a weighted grubber into the in-goal area for Belleau to dive on to for his second.
The SA A side then struck back as Vorster registered his second. A massive tighthead saw the ball back on the home side as Combrinck put in a cross kick which bobbled around before the Lions centre pounced.
Cronjé nailed the kick for a slender one-point lead.
Mvovo got his brace late in the match to make the result secure, with Fred Zelinga putting over the conversion to finish the game with an eight-point win.
SA A – Tries: Lwazi Mvovo (2), Makazole Mapimpi, Sikhumbuzo Notshe, Harold Vorster (2). Conversions: Lionel Cronjé (2), Fred Zeilinga (1).
French Barbarians – Tries: Yann Lesgourgues, Fred Michalak, Anthony Belleau (2). Conversions: Michalak (4).Independent Media