Springboks see off World XV in Cape Town thriller
Last Updated: 07/06/14 8:25pm
Bryan Habana offloads to South African teammate Bakkies Botha
South Africa warmed up for their June internationals in ideal fashion on Saturday with a 47-13 victory over a star-studded World XV in Cape Town.
The Springboks recovered from a slow start to outscore their opponents six tries to one.
Although the match did not carry full 'Test' status, Heyneke Meyer's troops were tested in every facet of the game by a side packed with talent and up for the challenge.
World XV coach Nick Mallett said his side would have to pitch up with the right attitude and it was clear from the first minute that they had come to give the Boks a full examination.
South Africa led 18-13 at the interval thanks to tries from Toulon team-mates Bryan Habana and Bakkies Botha in reply to World XV lock Alistair Hargreaves' opening score.
The lead changed hands a number of times in the first half as the World XV matched their hosts in the set pieces and did not step back in contact.
But as expected, the tourists' defensive organisation ultimately proved their undoing as the powerful Boks clinically cashed in on the opportunities offered.
The Springbok pack took control in the second half though as two textbook mauls off line-outs gave the hosts a healthy lead before late tries from Johan Goosen and Willie le Roux added the cherry on top of a well-deserved win.
The tourists made the brighter start and found their way over the try-line after just five minutes as Saracens lock Hargreaves crashed over after his second row partner and countryman Juandré Kruger was stopped just short. Australian full-back James O'Connor added the conversion to cap a perfect start for the multi-national side.
The Boks replied almost immediately though as Morne Steyn slotted an easy penalty after the visitors were caught offside.
The World XV came close to snatching another early try but Matt Giteau's grubber had just too much on it and beat Hosea gear to the deadball line. Mallett's side nevertheless had their tails up.
That would change at the end of the first quarter when Habana scored out wide after JP Pietersen threw a nifty pass between his legs to expose a massive overlap. The ball went through the hands to give Habana an easy run-in. Steyn's conversion attempt sailed wide to leave South Africa leading 8-7.
The World XV only had two training sessions to prepare but their scrum got on top of the Boks in the first half, earning a penalty which O'Connor sent over to put the visitors back in front.
The lead changed hands once again on the half-hour mark as Steyn hit the target with a penalty against Hargreaves for being offside.
The Boks landed a vital blow just before the break with a refreshing display of counter-attacking as Le Roux, Habana and Victor Matfield combined to put Botha clear to score.
Steyn's conversion into the wind crept over to give the hosts a seven-point lead but O'Connor reduced the deficit to five points after Bismarck du Plessis was caught way offside on the stroke of half-time.
The Bok fly-half extended the lead (21-13) soon after the restart with an easy penalty after Joe Tekori entered a maul from the side. Mamuka Gorgodze was given a yellow card for the same offence a few minutes later and the Boks used their numerical advantage to rumble over the line with a classic lineout-maul drive.
Bismarck du Plessis bagged his second try on the hour mark as the home side repeated the same line-out and maul with ruthless efficiency.
The wind was finally taken out the World XV's sails when Jimmy Cowen was sin binned for stamping.
The Boks put the game to bed in the dying minutes as Goosen ghosted over from close range before Lwazi Mvovo put Le Roux away for their sixth try in the final minute, to finish an attack started by Schalk Brits in his own half.
The Boks will now face Wales in seven days full of confidence.