The quality of the Springboks' performance in Port Elizabeth is as much a reason to celebrate as the scoreline, writes MARK KEOHANE.
Smile, South Africa. This was a quality Bok performance.
Forget the quality of the opposition, but don’t forget Scotland won a week ago in Argentina. Also don't forget that Scotland in recent years have made for a messy opponent against the Boks, primarily because their forwards have been good enough to disrupt the Boks and their ground play has always been good. Their backs remain their weakness but in Port Elizabeth even their forwards were badly beaten.
Enjoy the performance and see it for what it was – an outstanding 80-minute effort.
So often the performance of today isn’t celebrated because of the possibility of failure tomorrow. The June internationals are never a measure of the Rugby Championship. It’s a different competition, different month, different opposition and different Bok line-up.
Judge the Boks on Saturday on what they produced on Saturday. It was a new-look Bok team but the mix of experience and youth was just the right tonic for the Scots because there was so much energy in the performance.
It also showed the depth being built. Lood de Jager has added to the abundance of talent at No 4 lock. We now have Eben Etzebeth, Bakkies Botha, Flip van der Merwe and De Jager. We also have Pieter-Steph du Toit to learn from the master Victor Matfield.
Schalk Burger’s incredible comeback was completed over 80 minutes, Marcell Coetzee enhanced his international standing and Handré Pollard looked at home as a Test flyhalf. Pollard plays so much flatter on attack and creates so much more. It’s a good-news story.
Jan Serfontein was excellent, JP Pietersen looked dangerous and strong and Lwazi Mvovo was a treat with ball in hand.
Willie le Roux was … well he was Willie le Roux … electric.
There was quality to the Bok performance and they played for the full 80 minutes.
Heyneke Meyer is building depth to the Boks in preparation for the World Cup and the manner in which the youngsters prospered also allows for better game-time management for the senior statesmen in the set-up.
I enjoyed the game. I enjoyed the vibrancy of the Boks and I absolutely loved the scoreline.
There’s still a month of Super Rugby to be played before we can think about the Wallabies or All Blacks.
For now all we have is Saturday and by any international standards it was a fine day for the Boks.
Photo: Anne Laing/HSM Images