South Africa. . .29
THE Springboks travelled to the holy city of Lourdes on Tuesday and whichever saint they prayed to appears to have answered their call as they scraped to an unimpressive win against a typically lively French selection here last night.
But while they scored three tries to one, the South Africans once again showed deficiencies in the pace of the game and, more surprisingly, in their on-field discipline. Didier Pouyau landed five penalties following rough or foul play and two players - James Small and Adrian Richter - were warned by the referee.
South Africa had points on the board even before the opposition touched the ball. Awarding the first in a series of penalties, the referee punished the French pack for an illegal charge at the kick-off and van Rensburg goaled from 40 metres. Pouyau, the Bayonne stand-off, replied seven minutes later when the touch judge called play back after Danie Gerber, in an uncharacteristic display of bad temper, was penalised for stamping.
Gerber was unlucky not to score in the left-hand corner, but from the ensuing line-out Adolf Malan soared to a two-handed catch and Wahl Bartmann powered over.
This hard-earned lead was quickly cut. Twice the Springboks forwards were penalised for over-vigorous play - Richter getting a formal warning - and twice Pouyau goaled from 40 metres to put the French a point ahead. Further indiscipline cost the Springboks yet another penalty and, without once getting closer than 35 metres from the Springbok line, the Aquitaine side led 12-8.
Van Rensburg added three more points to keep the Springboks in the match, but once again rank indiscipline cost them as Pouyau's fifth penalty cleared the posts.
A third penalty from van Rensburg seconds before half-time put the score at 15-14, but it took more than 20 minutes of scrappy, error-ridden play before further points were added. Slowly coming to terms with the exotic idea of counter-attacking from their own half, the Springboks had at last put together a concerted movement for Jacques Olivier to score.
Finally, three points down with six minutes to go after the replacement wing Christian Salinas had crossed for the French, the Springboks struck for home with a try from Small, van Rensburg converting and landing a closing penalty.
South Africa: Tries Bartmann, Olivier, Small; Penalties Van Rensburg 4; Conversion Van Rensburg. Aquitaine: Try Salinas; Penalties Pouyau 5; Conversion Pouyau.
AQUITAINE: J-B Lafond (Begles, capt); P Bernat-Salles (Pau), F Rebreau (Lourdes), F Preux (Pau), P Lacroix (Dax); D Pouyau (Bayonne), G Accoceberry (Tyrosse); G Lascube (Biarritz), L Verge (Begles), E Michaud (SBUC), O Roumat (Dax), F Grec (Lourdes), P Benetton (Agen), A van Heerden (Tarbes), A Benazzi (Agen). Replacements: C Salinas (Lourdes) for Lacroix, 10; T Mentieres (Pau) for Michaud, 73; M Dal Maso (Agen) for Lascube, 60.
SOUTH AFRICA: T van Rensburg; J Small (Transvaal), D Gerber (Western Province), H Fuls (Transvaal), J Olivier (Northern Transvaal); H Le Roux, G Wright (Transvaal); J Styger (Orange Free State), H Roberts (Transvaal), W Hills, A Malan, D Hattingh (Northern Transvaal), W Bartmann (Natal, capt), A Richter (Northern Transvaal), C Strauss (Western Province). Replacement: H Rodgers (Transvaal) for Hills, 60.
Referee: J Darroque (Armagnac-Bigorre).