The Springbok Showdown took place at Newlands on Saturday and while it was far from festival rugby the contest has answered some questions for the coaches and posed some fresh ones.
Five things learned from the Springbok Showdown
Here we look at five things we either learned from the Springbok Showdown or were reinforced by the Green vs Gold clash.
1 Sanele Nohamba will be a Springbok soon
The Sharks halfback was a livewire behind the dominant Green pack putting Herschel Jantjies in the shade and staking a huge claim for a Rugby Championship call-up.
Those following Nohamba’s progress at the Sharks are aware that the former junior Springbok is an exciting prospect and like Jantjies he has that x-factor.
Nohamba is not short on options when in possession, he clears the ball quickly, has an educated boot, and one hell of a step which coupled with good pace makes him deadly around the fringes.
2 The flyhalf conundrum
With Handre Pollard on ice for some time, a key question that the Springboks need to answer is who will don the ten jersey.
Experienced Springbok flyhalf Elton Jantjies still holds the inside lane even if his performance in the showdown didn’t blow the door off its hinges. Jantjies now produces a stable level of performance that can be relied upon, but the coaches will want more.
Damian Willemse and Curwin Bosch did little to enhance their claims on the jersey with the former sin-binned for a cynical piece of play that also cost his Gold team a penalty try. Willemse was at the heart of some of the Gold team’s best attacks but on the whole, had a day to forget as his kicking faltered. Bosch couldn’t change the pattern of the match and may actually be better suited to playing fullback where he gets the space to create magic.
3 Defence is the Springboks bread and butter
Those expecting a Barbarians-style game where the ball is tossed about with gay abandon were likely let down by the Springbok Showdown, but both teams nailed the fundamentals of defence.
The patterns used almost totally nullified the wings whose involvement was primarily limited to kick defence and trying to gather up and unders and cross-kicks.
The core elements of the defensive structures were excellent, and this should continue to be the Springboks bread and butter.
4 A world-class prop is worth their weight in gold
The Green pack dominated the game due to their considerable bulk, but there were the odd moments of disruption instigated by Gold loosehead prop Steven Kitshoff.
Kitshoff showed what having just one world-class front ranker can do, just about single-handedly destroying Green’s dominant pack.
A member of the so-called bomb squad, Kitshoff will be hoping to be elevated to being a regular starter in the Green and Gold, and his performance on Saturday will go a long way towards convincing Jacques Nienaber to give him the number three jersey.
5 Springbok rugby was the winner
The old cliche that at the end of the day rugby was the winner rang true more than it does in most cases.
This match wasn’t an entertainment-packed thrill ride, but it was a vital hit out for Springboks and potential future internationals, and while there were a lot of errors, it was played with Test match intensity.
With the Springboks drastically undercooked due to a lack of rugby in comparison to Australia and New Zealand, this trial brings the group that much closer to being ready to defend the Rugby Championship.