Willie le Roux scored a hat-trick in the Springboks’ 46-10 win against the World XV at Newlands on Saturday. JON CARDINELLI reports.
The fixture amounted to little more than a pre-season hit-out. For the most part, the Boks were too strong for the World XV, a composite side that lacked as much intensity as it did synergy.
The Boks started well at the set pieces and breakdowns. Their lineout stole a couple against the throw, while their precision at the rucks created some promising counter-attacking opportunities.
After 24 minutes, the Boks were out to a 22-3 lead. From there, it appeared as if a 50-point win was on the cards.
Centre Damian de Allende was outstanding for the Boks in that opening quarter. The Newlands crowd roared when De Allende took the ball to the line and knocked World XV flyhalf Mike Harris off his feet. A subsequent clash between De Allende and Harris ended just as badly, with De Allende handing off the Australian on his way to the tryline.
Harris was involved in another defensive mishap in the buildup to Le Roux’s first try. The Boks won yet another lineout against the throw, and proceeded to hammer away at the World XV’s tryline. Le Roux eventually got the ball and powered through a feeble tackle attempt by Harris.
The World XV lifted their intensity levels in the periods before and after half-time. They fought their way back into the contest, and would have narrowed the deficit further had their goal-kickers not missed two penalty attempts.
The Boks eventually got their act together in the 53rd minute when Bryan Habana broke down the left flank. A great offload in the tackle set up an easy run-in for Le Roux.
The Bok fullback bagged his third try in the 65th minute. Schalk Burger intercepted a pass deep in his own half, and found Jean de Villiers on the switch. The veteran centre marked his return to competitive rugby with a long spiraling pass to set up Le Roux for another easy finish.
Predictably, the Boks piled on the points in the final quarter. They did concede two yellow cards during this period (Francois Louw for a lineout foul and Le Roux for a shoulder charge), but scored two more tries.
In terms of experimentation, Jesse Kriel had a solid outing at No 13 in what were wet and testing conditions at Newlands. Burger offered more at No 8 when he replaced Warren Whiteley in the second half. Whiteley was relatively quiet in the first 40.
Another positive was the fact that De Villiers played his first 20 minutes of rugby since sustaining a serious knee injury in November last year.
Springboks – Tries: Damian de Allende (2), Eben Etzebeth, Willie le Roux (3), Cobus Reinach. Conversions: Handré Pollard (2), Pat Lambie (2). Penalty: Pollard.
World XV – Try: Craig Burden. Conversion: Mike Harris. Penalty: Harris.
Springboks – 15 Willie le Roux, 14 JP Pietersen, 13 Jesse Kriel, 12 Damian de Allende, 11 Bryan Habana, 10 Handré Pollard, 9 Ruan Pienaar, 8 Warren Whiteley, 7 Marcell Coetzee, 6 Francois Louw, 5 Victor Matfield (c), 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Jannie du Plessis, 2 Bismarck du Plessis, 1 Beast Mtawarira.
Subs: 16 Adriaan Strauss, 17 Trevor Nyakane, 18 Vincent Koch, 19 Oupa Mohoje, 20 Schalk Burger, 21 Cobus Reinach, 22 Pat Lambie, 23 Jean de Villiers.
World XV – 15 Delon Armitage, 14 Lachlan Turner, 13 JJ Engelbrecht, 12 Maxime Mermoz, 11 David Smith, 10 Mike Harris, 9 Luke Burgess, 8 Luke Whitelock, 7 Steffon Armitage, 6 Jordan Taufua, 5 Bakkies Botha (c), 4 Ali Williams, 3 Carl Hayman, 2 Craig Burden, 1 Gurthrö Steenkamp.
Subs: 16 David Roumieu, 17 Alexandre Menini, 18 Petrus du Plessis, 19 Flip van der Merwe, 20 Louis-Benoit Madaule, 21 Maxime Machenaud, 22 Andrew Horrell, 23 Rudi Wulf.
Photo: Ashley Vlotman/Gallo Images