Despite their exotic clothing, the Springboks debuted their world title defense in Marseille this Sunday with their most recognizable skin. That of its granite organization, the muscle of its giant forwards and also some shadows. Efficiency made selection, unrelated to aesthetic winks that do not add points. South Africa defeated Scotland (18-3) without great flourishes, but with a defense without cracks, the enigma that the thinking minds of rugby try to solve against the clock.
The traditional green and gold of the Springboks stayed in the closet and gave way to the discord shirt, with turquoise and white tones. The exoticism remained in disguise because the South Africans applied their medicine, as predictable as it was difficult to counteract. His striker is that boxer who does not seek to knock out, but hopelessly exhaust his rival. Safely, moving the ball away from his backline, the big ones of him impact, bruising Scotland’s ribs. Literally, because Fin Russell was breathing hard after accidentally knocking Arendse down with them. A challenge of tackles on the edge of the regulation and tense faces. The referee, Angus Gardner, paused halfway through the first half so that the captains could calm down the hostilities after some football scuffle.
The action took place over short distances, light years away from the rehearsal areas, with a scoreboard waiting to smile with some clubbing. South Africa was in charge because the game was played more in the opponent’s field and it added up when Scotland defended itself like a cat on its belly with actions such as a voluntary slap from Russell to stop the game. But the Cardo’s
But the Scottish rib began to creak around the locker room. The South African striker struck for the first time on the edge of the test and her conductor, scrum-half Faf De Klerk, applied a frantic pace to the release of the ball. This is how the platform that took Damian de Allende to the mark zone was formed. The party wasn’t complete as Manie Libbok missed an easy conversion, her third kick missing the sticks. One of the shadows: a World Cup is not the best time to doubt a kicker.
But Libbok redeemed himself and proved that he doesn’t wear the number ten just because of the sniper scope. The test forced Scotland to open the field and the fly half took advantage of a bad withdrawal to take a masterful kick without looking, as if it were basketball. Meeting him was Arendse, the very fast winger from rugby sevens who activated his engines and added his twelfth try in just one year. Having endorsed Australia a treble in July, he is one of the tournament’s top scorer hopefuls. His assistant gave the kicker role to De Klerk, who scored the twelfth point in just four minutes.
An impossible slab for Scotland, orphan of Stuart Hogg, the differential player in the last decade to open defenses who surprised with an early retirement. Once the job was done, South Africa rested on its strength, without wasting its strength in search of a bonus point for scoring four tries. The winningest team in the history of the World Cup – it has the same titles as New Zealand, three, despite not contesting the first two due to Apartheid – achieved its 36th victory in 43 games by inertia.
Sunday’s day started in Tolouse with Japan’s 42-12 victory against Chile, which faced the 2019 quarterfinalist in its World Cup debut during the first half. Wales and Fiji will close it starting at 9:00 p.m. in Bordeaux, a clash for qualification for the quarterfinals in group C.
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