CAPE TOWN – When the final whistle went after Herschel Jantjies scored that match-saving try in the 79th minute, followed by Handré Pollard’s conversion, one of the SuperSport commentators excitedly shouted “the Boks get the win!”, before quickly correcting himself.
That mistake wasn’t even strange, the 16-all result really did feel like a victory, and the Boks are certainly the happier team after the clash, and it’s not hard to figure out why.
So, here are four big boosts for the Boks from their draw in Wellington.
1 Rugby Championship could mean something after all
Yeah yeah, the Rugby Championship doesn’t matter in a World Cup year, and nobody cares who takes the trophy home when old Bill is also up for grabs. But the Boks have a real chance of winning the Championship or the Tri Nations for the the first time since 2009. Yes, it’s all about Japan, but before then, winning the Rugby Championship would mean a little more than nothing for Rassie and co.
The Springboks have been starved of silverware in the last ten years, and while the Championship winner won’t be the biggest talking point come September, winning it will equip the Springboks with much-needed belief and confidence in such an important year, and it will also be a tangible measure of progress for Erasmus.
The Boks currently top the log, closely followed by New Zealand. If they beat Argentina in Salta next week, their chances of securing the trophy are solid, if they get a bonus point, it’s a done deal.
2. The rise of Herschel Jantjies
If they win the World Cup, it’ll be a different case, but until now, Herschel Jantjies is the best thing to happen to the Boks in 2019, heck, he’s the best thing to have happened to the Boks in recent years.
In his stint off the bench, his late try was of course the top moment, but until then, his passing was crisp, his box kicks accurate and he again brought that all-round eagerness.
You’d never have said it was only his second Test, and watching him go, you wouldn’t say it was against the All Blacks at home.
I don’t see how things can get any better for this guy, but judging by the Stormers scrumhalf’s attitude, he’ll sure try.
3. Front-row depth
How good was Trevor Nyakane when he came off the bench in the 56th minute?!
Let’s start here - the Boks’ depth overall is impressive, but to see this kind of numbers in the front row is quite something, particularly at prop.
Back to Nyakane. His first scrum turned the tables, with the Boks conceding a scrum penalty just before he came on, and the second one he featured in was also a sight to behold.
His performance was massive, no doubt about that, but overall, seeing one SA front row substituted with another quality one was the real golden moment. Those aren’t even the only front-rowers the Springboks can choose from...and to think there’s still Wilco Louw back here in SA.
4. Pieter-Steph’s bottomless tank
How does he do it? How does he produce that kind of performances week in and week out?
He was a standout performer for the Stormers in Super Rugby, and against the Wallabies the Man of the Match award in all likelihood would have gone his way had Jantjies not stolen the show with his dream debut.
He was an absolute beast on defence. It never even looked as if he was getting ready to tap into his reserve tank. He will be a massive presence come the World Cup.@WynonaLouw