CAPE TOWN – It took a while for the Springbok slow poison to work, but when it did there was only going to be one winner in Tokyo yesterday. In rugby, a good big one is always going to beat a good small one... it is a fact of life.
As predicted, Bok power ultimately trumped Japanese pace and work ethic, with the Brave Blossoms wilting as the game moved towards the last quarter. The Japanese had held out courageously until their strength was fatally sapped by the relentless pressure from the South African big men, especially when Rassie Erasmus’ famed “second tight five” came on.
That was when a tight affair devolved into the expected rout, with a flurry of scoring from the Boks soothing the frayed nerves of their supporters who had watched their team labour clumsily for three-quarters of the match. The first half in particular made for painful viewing as the Boks squandered opportunity after opportunity. Maybe it was nerves but the Boks rushed their play, forcing 50-50 passes and kicking when they would have been better served to hang onto possession.
They started well enough, with a precocious blindside break by Faf de Klerk putting Makazole Mapimpi in for an early try that temporarily silenced the massive home support.
The home team were obviously going to make a decent fist of it and when they inevitably came at the Boks in that first half, they asked serious questions of the defence.