On the right track to Paris … Five positives from the Springboks mauling of Wales

Damian Willemse celebrates scoring his sides eighth try with team-mates Jesse Kriel and Canan Moodie against Wales

Springboks Damian Willemse celebrates scoring his sides eighth try with team-mates Jesse Kriel and Canan Moodie against Wales. Photo: Simon King/ProSportsImages/DPPI via AFP

Published Aug 21, 2023


The Springboks started their European adventure with a convincing 52-16 win over Wales in their second-last World Cup warm-up match.

The defending world champions scored eight tries in the record victory to gain valuable momentum as their captain Siya Kolisi returned from injury.

Here, Leighton Koopman looks at some key aspects where the Boks excelled and where they must improve ahead of the last warm-up against New Zealand on Friday.

YES! Scrummaging monsters

Wales had a torrid time keeping up with the Springboks at the scrum. Penalty after penalty rained down on the home side with props Frans Malherbe and Steven Kitshoff and hooker Malcolm Marx dominating in the front-row.

In the second half, it was the turn of the returning Ox Nche, Vincent Koch and Bongi Mbonambi to turn on the screws.

Although the All Black match looks more like a festival type of game, the Springboks will want to go one step further by dominating the current champions in the South when it comes to the scrums.

NO! Discipline will be key

The Boks will have to sharpen up on their discipline.

Against Wales, the South Africans copped a bunch of penalties that could’ve been avoided and it’s usually those small foxes that destroy the vines.

Coach Jacques Nienaber outlined a penalty sequence that took Wales

from their 22m area till about the 5m line of the Springboks, and had it not been for the interception of Pieter-Steph du Toit, those three consecutive penalties against the Boks could’ve ended up in a try.

Those penalties will not work against New Zealand on Friday – or in crunch World Cup matches.

With the Boks’ rush defence, there will be an offside here and there but jumping across the lineout when contesting is silly and completely avoidable.

YES! A rolling maul gathers no loss

This has been the constant over the last four games for the Boks – setting up a good rolling maul and winning metre and eventually scoring tries.

They put Wales under copious amounts of pressure through it and laid a good attacking platform for the backline.

A solid Springboks pack dominating the rucks and mauls is a recipe for success.

But, the Boks also made good headway with stopping the Welsh mauling, and this close to the World Cup, it can be another momentum builder.

Locks Jean Kleyn and RG Snyman were instrumental in disrupting the mauls, and together with the hardworking loose-forwards and props, it painted a good picture for the Nienaber.

The players will have to do the same on Friday night when they square up with the Kiwis, who put on some good rolling mauls earlier last month when they beat the Springboks in Auckland.

NO! Fielding box kicks

What usually is a strong point is currently under heavy scrutiny when South Africa plays.

They mostly struggled to field high kicks at the back in the clash with Wales, especially in the first half, but some stability came as the game went on which was a good sign.

Willie le Roux was the biggest culprit, while Wales scrumhalf Kieran Hardy kept pumping the kicks in the first 40 trying to put the South Africans under pressure.

New Zealand exploited this little flaw the last time out in Auckland and will most likely do the same thing come Friday night.

If Nienaber gives Makazole Mapimpi and Willemse starting berths in the back-three, it could go a long way to stabilise the fielding of high kicks.

YES! Clicking combinations

Nienaber will be pleased with how his combinations are going. Yes, there was a lot of chopping and changing in previous matches, but now these guys have that feeling of playing together. And against Wales, it showed.

Le Roux and flyhalf Manie Libbok combined beautifully when they interchanged positions and Le Roux’s communication in the backline is one of the crucial cogs in the Bok attack.

Damian de Allende looks solid with Jesse Kriel had a blinder,in the absence of the injured Lukhanyo Am.