The Springboks pack of forwards go to work against Scotland. Picture: Russell Cheyne/Reuters
The Springboks pack of forwards go to work against Scotland. Picture: Russell Cheyne/Reuters

Springboks’ powerful scrum like a snake bite ... it kills you slowly - Jacques Nienaber

By Ashfak Mohamed Time of article published Nov 13, 2021

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Cape Town – “We knew that if we just keep on knocking and knocking, that takes energy, and we just hoped that we would get a couple of opportunities at the back-end of the game, which happened today for us.”

That was the view of Springbok coach Jacques Nienaber about not taking the three points from penalties in the aftermath of the 30-15 victory over Scotland at Murrayfield on Saturday.

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South Africa placed unnecessary pressure on themselves in the first half by opting to boot a number of penalties into touch to set up a lineout instead of asking Elton Jantjies to kick at goal.

But the mauls were stopped by the home side, and that cost the Boks nine points in the opening 40 minutes, with Scotland leading 10-8 at halftime.

Captain Siya Kolisi and his team, though, managed to land a sucker punch with a wonderful try by Makazole Mapimpi soon after the break, and the Bok No 11 finished off another excellent attack later in the second half to clinch victory.

“We said before this Test match that everybody looks at Scotland’s attack, but they are actually the best defensive side in the northern hemisphere after the World Cup. They conceded the least points in the Six Nations and Autumn Nations Cup, so we always knew that it would be tough to break them down,” Nienaber said from Edinburgh after the match.

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“In the first half, especially in the first 12 minutes, we applied a lot of pressure on Scotland, but hats off to their defence. We know that they have the best defence in the northern-hemisphere in the last two years, and we struggled to convert – and that’s probably down to their quality defence.

“In the first 15 minutes of the match, we had all the territory and possession, and it just shows the quality of how they kept us out. But we knew that if we just keep on knocking and knocking, that takes energy, and we just hoped that we would get a couple of opportunities at the back-end of the game, which happened today for us.”

Nienaber praised the two Bok front rows – the starting trio of Ox Nché, Bongi Mbonambi and Trevor Nyakane, as well as the ‘Bomb Squad’ of Steven Kitshoff, Malcolm Marx and Vincent Koch – for dominating in the scrums throughout the 80 minutes.

“What they (both Bok front rows) do in the scrums takes energy, it saps energy. It is almost like, I said to Siya, when a snake bites you and the venom starts going through your body, you don’t die immediately – you die a little bit later,” the Bok coach said.

“So, it’s almost what they are currently doing for us. That is why I say sometimes, like in the British and Irish Lions series, we started Kitsie and Malcolm, and then Trevor came on. If you think about the last Test match against the Lions, that crucial scrum on the Lions ball five metres from our tryline, and the guys that were on got a penalty for us.

“I made a joke afterwards with Daan (Human, Bok scrum coach) – I said I think he should give his win bonuses to the front row!

“We said from the start that we are fortunate that we have two quality front rows, and that they work in tandem. The guys who started always laid the foundation, and the guys coming on have a specific role to fulfil, and I thought they built nicely on the foundation that was created by the guys who started.”

@ashfakmohamed

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