South Africa’s Springboks and Samoa will contest the Castle Lager Incoming Series title in Pretoria next Saturday after winning their respective clashes against Scotland and Samoa in Nelspruit’s Mbombela Stadium on Saturday night.
The South Africans had to come from a 17-6 deficit in the second half of their clash to beat Scotland 30-17, whilst Samoa were too good for Italy on the day, easily beating them 39-10 after leading 10-3 at the break.
After two rounds of the series, South Africa top the log courtesy of a better points difference than Samoa and the two will clash in the main match of the Loftus Versfeld double header next weekend.
Scotland (3rd) and Italy (4th), both of whom have yet to win in the series, will contest the early match.
Samoa 39 (10), Italy 10 (3)
Apart from captain Sergio Parisse, who certainly is classy, there was little to write home about for the Azzurri, as their second outing in South Africa ended in just as big a defeat as the first one.
Samoa's hard-running style, physical ability at the breakdowns and improvement in the scrums was there to see from last weekend. They opened their scoring when Tusi Pisi broke through the midfield and sent the ball wide for Paul Williams to score. Italian flyhalf Luciano Orquera got his side on the board with a penalty but it wasn’t long before Williams had restored the lead.
Pisi again saw some space behind the gain line and put through the perfect grubber for Alapati Leiua to time his run perfectly and score the second try.
Samoa kicked another penalty and killed off any chance of the match being a contest as they stole a great ball in their own 22, took the ball up and watched as Johnny Leota ran 70 metres to outstrip the defence and put them way out in front.
The Samoans' fourth try was just as impressive on the counter-attack, but had to be confirmed upstairs as Wayne Ole Avei looked to be in touch as he passed inside to Taiasina Tuifua for the try.
Leiua was sent to the sin bin late in the game for a professional foul and applying pressure in the maul the Italians finally were rewarded as Craig Joubert awarded a penalty try, taking them to double figures.
Samoa – Tries: Paul Williams, Alapati Leiua, Johnny Leota, Taiasina Tuifua, Brandon Va'aulu. Conversions: Williams (3), Ki Anufe. Penalties: Williams (2).
Italy – Try: Penalty try. Conversion: Alberto Di Bernardo. Penalty: Luciano Orquera.
South Africa 30 (6), Scotland 17 (10)
The Springboks regrouped timeously enough after halftime to avoid embarrassment, but their 30-17 win over Scotland tested coach Heyneke Meyer’s team was more than public expectation.
The Springboks lost loose forward Arno Botha in the first minute of the match with a knee injury, which did not help their cause, although Meyer was very proud of the way replacement Siya Kolisi played.
“We have lost Arno for at least eight weeks, so it is a pity, but Siya really took his changes well. We were tested out there today, this was a proper test match,” Meyer said.
The coach admitted that they did not play well at the breakdowns.
“We struggled to adapt at the breakdown, but I thought we showed great character to come back and win the test match. All credit to Scotland who played very well.”
Captain Jean de Villiers also felt the importance of team work was instrumental in their win.
“Everyone trusted the guy next to him and that guy did what he was supposed to do. One cannot ask for more than that as a captain. The young guys in the team showed a lot of maturity when needed.”
With six minutes to go, there were only three points in it as the Boks led 20-17. It was then that replacement flyhalf Patrick Lambie stepped up to kick a penalty to make it a six point buffer and on the final whistle young centre Jan Serfontein dropped in to score his first test try.
Visiting flyhalf Greig Laidlaw kicked the first points of the match with a penalty, but Mornè Steyn equalized and then took the lead for the Boks with penalties of his own.
The first try of the match was created for the Scots by a great chip and gather out on the right and centre Matt Scott scored. Laidlaw’s conversion was the last score of the half with 20 minutes of it left.
Outside centre Alex Dunbar went over in the left corner to complete the second try after a sustained build-up early in the second half. A penalty try was awarded to the Boks as the pack rumbled up to the line, and then JJ Engelbrecht scored the try that put the Boks into a lead in the 55th minute that they were never to relinquish.
South Africa – Tries: Penalty try, JJ Engelbrecht, Jan Serfontein. Conversions: Mornè Steyn (2), Pat Lambie. Penalties: Steyn (2), Lambie.
Scotland – Tries: Matt Scott, Alex Dunbar. Conversions: Greig Laidlaw (2). Penalty: Laidlaw.