The Green team scored three unanswered tries to beat the Gold team 25-9 in the Springbok Showdown at Newlands on Saturday. MARIETTE ADAMS reports.
From a competitive point of view, there wasn’t much riding on this match or its outcome. But that didn’t take away from the many significant storylines within this contest.
It pitted several prominent Springbok stars against each other and provided a platform for bright-eyed and bushy-tailed youngsters to play alongside and against their more accomplished and world-renowned heroes, served as an audition for those on the periphery of Test selection and gave coaches and fans alike a glimpse of the future stars of South African rugby.
But perhaps the most significant storyline of all was concerning the iconic venue. With the Western Province Rugby Union set to move to the Cape Town Stadium next year, this was the last-ever ‘Springbok’ match to be hosted at Newlands. As a viewer rightly commentated on one of the television broadcaster’s social media platforms: ‘An empty Newlands, is a sad Newlands.’ That it’s the last time the stadium will play host to the green and gold makes it all the sadder.
Since the announcement of this encounter, the rugby public formed the narrative that this was a Springbok trial, but if we’re honest the quality of this match was substandard.
The highly-anticipated flyhalf battle between Elton Jantjies and Damian Willemse for the Springbok N0 10 jersey in Handre Pollard’s absence was non-existent, with the former producing a solid display in open play and off the kicking tee, while the latter struggled to impose himself on the game and returned a poor kicking performance. Willemse missed three penalties, two of which were straight in front, and he missed touch from a penalty at a crucial time.
As can be expected in just their second game after a six-month layoff due to the Covid-19 restrictions, the players’ intensity and urgency levels weren’t high.
In a stop-start affair, team Green had all the forward ascendancy, but not the fluidity to back it up. Despite the fierce onslaught from the Green heavies, the Gold team was magnificent in defence – but handling errors were a concern and impeded any meaningful momentum.
The lineouts and breakdown work on both sides were scrappy, but Green dominated the scrums and that laid the platform for Jantjies to kick them into a six-point lead. When asked to do the same for Gold, Willemse skewed two of his three attempts in the first half as they went into the break trailing 6-3.
Gold wrestled back the momentum at the scrum, with Steven Kitshoff leading the charge, but they failed to turn that ascendancy into points. Notwithstanding their ill-discipline (15 penalties by the 70-minute mark), Green withstood that period of pressure before seizing total control to secure the win.
Five minutes into the second half, Gold’s Willemse conceded a penalty try and a yellow card for interference off the ball when he blatantly pulled Green wing Yaw Penxe back, which prevented the speedster from scoring a stunning try.
Curwin Bosch was introduced for Gold and took over the kicking responsibilities from Willemse. Bosch slotted two penalties, but that would be their last points of the match. Captain Siya Kolisi and replacement Juarno Augustus barged over the tryline for Green, with younster Kade Wolhuter nailing the touchline conversion of Augustus’ effort to round off the match.
Springbok Green – Try: Penalty try, Siya Kolisi, Juarno Augustus. Conversions: Automatic conversion, Kade Wolhuter. Penalties: Elton Jantjies (2).
Springbok Gold – Penalties: Damian Willemse, Curwin Bosch.
Springbok Green – 15 Gianni Lombard, 14 Yaw Penxe, 13 Wandisile Simelane, 12 Frans Steyn, 11 Malcolm Jaer, 10 Elton Jantjies, 9 Sanele Nohamba, 8 Duane Vermeulen, 7 Arno Botha, 6 Siya Kolisi (c), 5 Hyron Andrews, 4 JD Schickerling, 3 Luan de Bruin, 2 Bongi Mbonambi, 1 Ox Nche.
Subs: 16 Schalk Erasmus, 17 Kwenzo Blose, 18 Thomas du Toit, 19 JJ van der Mescht, 20 Juarno Augustus, 21 Junior Pokomela, 22 Embrose Papier, 23 Manie Libbok, 24 Jeremy Ward, 25 Kade Wolhuter.
Springbok Gold – 15 Warrick Gelant, 14 Rosko Specman, 13 Lukhanyo Am (c), 12 Rikus Pretorius, 11 Courtnall Skosan, 10 Damian Willemse, 9 Herschel Jantjies, 8 Sikhumbuzo Notshe, 7 Nizaam Carr, 6 Marco van Staden, 5 Marvin Orie, 4 Salmaan Moerat, 3 Ruan Dreyer, 2 Scarra Ntubeni, 1 Steven Kitshoff.
Subs: 16 Dylan Richardson, 17 Dylan Smith, 18 Carlü Sadie, 19 Jason Jenkins, 20 James Venter, 21 Vincent Tshituka, 22 Ivan van Zyl, 23 Curwin Bosch, 24 Werner Kok, 25 Manuel Rass.