The Springboks put in a strong first outing of the year to beat a star-studded World XV 47-13 at Newlands on Saturday. The home side scored six tries and linked well, despite a number of players having just returned from crunch matches in Europe.
South Africa built on their first half stability and piled on the points in the second half, after having only led 18-13 at the break. Their Toulon stars combined nicely, and with a few Top 14 and Heineken Cup champions in the World XV too, it provided for a niggly Test match type atmosphere.
Captain Victor Matfield, returning to the side after post 2011 Rugby World Cup retirement, said that his troops improved nicely as the game progressed.
“In the beginning we did not execute well, but once we managed to get into their half, we played well. It was a very good World XV, which gave us a lot of problems in the beginning,” he said.
The match against the World XV, that featured the likes of Rene Ranger, Steffon Armitage, Hosea Gear, James O’Connor, Mamuka Gorgodze and Rory Kockott, did not contribute to Test caps.
There were no immediate injury concerns which was a plus for coach Heyneke Meyer, but squad players Juan De Jongh and Marnitz Boshoff have since been ruled out of possible selection for the Wales Test, with illness and injury respectively.
“This match was important to us, because we have to play together as a team to become better. I believe we are a very dangerous team when we play with quick ball and that was something that I was unhappy about at the break.
“I had some harsh words for the players about the penalties conceded in the first half. In the second half we applied ourselves better at the breakdown and we scored some very good tries. To score six, seven tries against a side with the quality of this World XV is very pleasing,” said Meyer.
“Wales will be well prepared. They are a quality side with big backs which will give them go forward ball. They also played together in the Six Nations, while we are just starting out,” he added.
World XV captain Matt Giteau, perhaps not so fresh from Top 14 victory celebrations, said “Our attitude was there but perhaps not the legs after a long season.”