The Springboks and Samoa opened their campaigns in the Castle Lager Incoming Series with wins over Italy and Scotland in Durban on Saturday, with the hosts leading the log after earning a bonus point for their five tries in a 44-10 win.
The series now move to Nelspruit’s Mbombela Stadium where the Springboks will play Scotland and Samoa will face Italy.
The two top-ranked sides will face off at Loftus Versfeld on 22 June in the final of the series.
Samoa 27 (14), Scotland 17 (9)
Samoa outscored Scotland by three tries to one in their 27-17 match which kick-started this first ever quadrangular series on South African soil.
In their clash against Scotland, the Samoans raced into an early lead with two quick tries and were leading 19-14 at the break. The Scots came back well in the second half and actually took a 17-14 lead following a Sean Lamont try.
“We allowed them to come back into the game and that was disappointing,” Scotland interim-coach Scott Johnson said.
“We had a couple of youngsters out there and there is only one way to learn and grow experience.”
Samoa’s powerhouse winger Alesana Tuilagi edged his side ahead again around the 60 minute mark and James So`oialo kept the scoreboard ticking to secure the win.
“We are very happy to beat Scotland for the first time; that is one of our aims when playing against Tier 1 teams. We have taken some good steps forward today,” said Samoan captain, Paul Williams afterwards.
Samoa – Tries: James So`oialo, Alesana Tuilagi (2). Conversions: James So`oialo (3).Penalties: So`oialo (2).
Scotland – Try: Sean Lamont. Conversion: Greig Laidlaw Penalties: Laidlaw (4).
South Africa 44 (20), Italy 10 (0)
The Springboks started and ended in great fashion against Italy with two tries in the first half hour of the match giving them a healthy buffer against a determined Italian side.
The visitors came back strongly in the second half and scored a well-deserved try, but a moment of magic by Man of the Match, Bryan Habana, provided the Springboks with a very strong finish.
Habana raced through from the halfway line to score, beating several defenders on the way to extend his test try scoring record to 48. Two more tries followed as the Springboks finally subdue a combative Italian side.
“I was very happy with Bryan’s performance today,” coach Heyneke Meyer said afterwards.
“It seems that when he is playing well, the team is doing well too. He is still enjoying his rugby and I asked him to express himself out there, which he did,” Meyer said.
Springbok captain Jean de Villiers was happy that his side could settle the nerves after a yellow card early in the second half, when Italy also scored their try.
“We needed to calm down and steadied the ship, something we did very well, so I am very happy about that,” he said.
Jano Vermaak (hamstring) is the only real injury concern at this stage and Meyer indicated that he will make some changes to the team for the Scotland match.
South Africa– Tries: Adriaan Strauss, JJ Engelbrecht, Bryan Habana, Jean de Villiers, Bjorn Basson. Conversions: Morne Steyn (4), Pat Lambie. Penalties: Morne Steyn (3).
Italy– Try: Alberto Sgarbi. Conversions: Alberto Di Bernardo. Penalty: Di Bernardo.
Castle Lager Incoming Series Log
Pos Team P W D L PF PA PD TF TA BPts Pts
1 South Africa 1 1 0 0 44 10 34 5 1 1 5
2 Samoa 1 1 0 0 27 17 10 3 1 0 4
3 Scotland 1 0 0 1 17 27 -10 1 3 0 0
4 Italy 1 0 0 1 10 44 -34 1 5 0 0