Malcolm Marx had arguably his best Test for the Springboks and was voted as the Man of the Match. Photo: Kim Ludbrook, EPA

PRETORIA – Springbok boss Allister Coetzee has called Saturday’s 37-14 win against France “a step in the right direction”.

The Boks scored four tries to the visitors’ two in the first Test at Loftus on Saturday to close the door on a horrid 2016 season, where Coetzee’s team won just four Tests out of 12.

Coetzee picked several rookies in his match-day squad on Saturday, including four debutants in his starting team.

“We have closed the chapter on 2016,” said Coetzee, “and this win is a move in the right direction – on defence, in attack and in our kicking game.”

Coetzee added he liked the options his team created with ball-in-hand. “This team has got belief to play a few different ways, so there’s really nice balance there.”

One of the big turning points in the game was the penalty try awarded to the Boks midway through the second half, which swung the tie the home team’s way.

At that stage the Boks were only 16-14 up, with the match finely balanced, but French fullback Brice Dulin interfering with Courtnall Skosan when he tried to gather the ball meant referee Glen Jackson had no option but give the Boks a seven-pointer.

“Every match has its turning points, it’s crucial moments. You could also say the try scored by France right after was also a turning point.”

Captain Warren Whiteley was a happy man afterwards, registering a win first up as Bok captain. “This is a great foundation we have laid, but that’s all it is,” he said.

“This was by no means the perfect performance, but I was very happy with the resilience we showed in defence, as well as the intensity we had when on attack.

“We played with a lot of intensity, and that is pleasing. However, this is a three-Test series and this was just one match. The French will come back hard, so we’ve got a lot of work to do this week.”

IOL Sport

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