Rugby Union: Le Roux displays dynamism

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The Independent Online
Languedoc. . . 15

South Africa. .36

SOUTH AFRICA'S midweek side, few of them in with any chance of a Test place, intermittently played more inspired and exhilarating rugby at the Stade de la Mediterranee last night than anything their dour seniors had produced in eking out victory over France in Lyons.

It had been an anxious day for the South Africans, or those - by no means all - who support Naas Botha. The Springbok captain had hurt his left hand making a tackle in training, which will teach him not to attempt the impossible. Tackling has never been his forte.

Initially it was feared he had broken it but after following the same path to the Beziers hospital as Adri Geldenhuys, the lock who decked Abdel Benazzi in Lyons and needed the guilty hand X-rayed, Botha was diagnosed as merely bruised and thus will play in the second Test in Paris on Saturday.

There are those who would wish it otherwise, so that Hennie le Roux could come in at outside-half and open up the Springboks' play. Last night Le Roux was closely policed by the Languedoc back row but still brought more variety and dynamism to South African back play than Botha ever does and played his part in the South African try right on half-time.

The French have their own version of Botha, and he was playing for Languedoc last night. Didier Camberabero is no longer required by France but he can still kick the ball further and more accurately than any other Frenchman. True, he missed a couple of penalties from the half-way line - just - but otherwise he was immaculate.

He kicked two penalties to Theo van Rensburg's three for South Africa but, more significantly, he created the 12th-minute try with which Languedoc took the lead. From a free-kick he launched a 'Hail Mary' garryowen from which Philippe Chamayou first impeded Van Rensburg and then scored when the full-back failed to hang on. Inevitably, Camberabero converted.

There were other alarms for the 'Boks but they first hung on and then broke free for a try of their own. In first-half injury-time Le Roux chip was deflected into Deon Oosthuysen's arms and the wing sped away before feeding inside to Robert du Preez. Van Rensburg missed the conversion.

As the Springboks ended the first half, so they began the second. Within a minute of the restart Van Rensburg scorched past cover he made seem leaden- footed and put Pieter Hendriks in for a try which Van Rensburg converted.

But at their moment of greatest superiority, the tourists lost their way. Chances were spurned and when Languedoc finally made it into South African territory, a calamitous defensive error presented Philippe Fabre with a try.

A gaggle of Springbok coverers were waiting for a rolling ball to cross their line when Fabre insinuated himself between them all and scored. Camberabero missed the difficult conversion and, South African nerves having been steadied when Van Rensburg landed a 50- yard penalty, their victory was rounded off by late tries by Drikus Hattingh and Van Rensburg.

Languedoc: Tries Chamayou, Fabre; Conversion Camberabero; Penalty Camberabero. South Africa: Tries Du Preez, Hendriks, Hattingh, Van Rensburg; Conversion Van Rensburg 2; Penalties Van Rensburg 4.

LANGUEDOC: P Bonhoure (Beziers); P Fabre (Montpellier), S Rouche, P Bondouy, J-P Bullich (Narbonne); D Camberabero (Beziers), P Cances (Montpellier); J-J Pineda (Narbonne), D Bes, C Musset (Montpellier), F Dejean (Narbonne, capt), J-F Gourragne, P Chamayou (Beziers), G Bourguignon, S Dispagne (Narbonne) Replacement: J-P Alarcon (Beziers) for Dispagne, 48; J-V Bertrand (Narbonne) for Bonhoure, 69.

SOUTH AFRICA: T van Rensburg (Transvaal); D Ooosthuysen (Northern Transvaal), H Fuls (Transvaal), F Knoetze (Western Province), P Hendriks; H le Roux (Transvaal), R du Preez (Natal, capt); J Styger (Orange Free State), H Roberts (Transvaal), K Andrews (Western Province), S Atherton (Natal), D Hattingh, P Pretorius (Northern Transvaal), I MacDonald (Transvaal), B Rossouw (Western Transvaal).

Referee: F Howard (England).

Teague on double time, page 31