The Springboks and Scotland on Saturday finished off the Castle Lager Incoming Series with impressive victories at Loftus Versfeld in a thrilling day of action.
The Springboks hammered Samoa 56-23 to ensure a clean-sweep of victories in the series and the trophy, while Scotland’s last gasp 30-29 victory against Italy – which was their first in the series - saved them from finishing at the foot of the log table.
In stark contrast to Scotland who had to fight until the death for their win, despite scoring three tries to two by Italy, the Boks showed signs of a well-oiled machine as they ran in eight tries to only two by Samoa for their runaway victory.
Scotland 30 Italy 29
Scotland finished the Castle Lager Incoming Series with their first and only win as they registered a nail-biting 30-29 victory against Italy at Loftus Versfeld to finish the series in third place on the log table.
With both teams boasting powerful packs, the set-piece battle proved to be intense, especially the scrums and rucks, but this also proved to be the source of penalties for both teams.
The clash was tightly contested from the start, with Italy’s right wing Leandro Cedaro putting the first points on the board thanks to a well-worked try on the left wing, which handed his team a 7-0 lead.
Scotland, however, bounced back minutes later with centre Matthew Scott scoring a fantastic try after collecting the ball in space and dashed to the tryline to level the scores.
Italian flyhalf Alberto Di Bernado then edged his team back into the lead with a penalty, but this was quickly undone as Scotland left wing Sean Lamont made the most of a costly mistake by Italy who lost the ball in contact to cross the tryline.
Italy, however, was awarded a penalty try in 32nd minute after Scotland collapsed consecutive scrums within striking range of the tryline which again levelled the scores at 17-17. This was extended to 20-all at half time after further penalties by Scotland captain Greig Laidlaw and Di Bernado.
Laidlaw and Di Bernado picked up where they left off in the first half and increased the score to 23-23 in the 43rd minute.
Unfortunately for Scotland they butchered a few try-scoring chances as the game opened up, but in stark contrast, Di Bernado made no mistake capitalising on their point-scoring chances as he slotted over two more penalties for a 29-23 lead in the 67th minute.
But a stunning last-minute try by Scotland flank Alasdair Strokosch from a quick tap in the dying seconds dealt the killer blow to Italy’s hopes of a victory, with Laidlaw’s conversion sealing the thrilling 30-29 victory.
Italy – Tries: Leandro Cearo (1), penalty try, Conversions: Alberto Di Bernado (2) Penalties: Alberto Di Bernado (5).
Scotland: Tries: Matthew Scott, Sean Lamont, Alasdair Strokosch. Conversions: Greig Laidlaw (3). Penalties: Greig Laidlaw (3).
Springboks 56 Samoa 23
The Springboks finished off the Castle Lager Incoming Series with a bang at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday as they thrashed Samoa 56-23 in the final of the series.
The clash started off conservatively with Bok flyhalf Morne Steyn and Samoan fullback James So’oialo kicking penalties early on which saw Samoa take a 6-3 lead in the 15th minute.
But the flood gates opened soon after for the home team with veteran wing Bryan Habana scoring the first of four first-half tries thanks to a fantastic pass by Willie le Roux for 10-6 lead.
Francois Louw crashed over the tryline from a rolling maul for the second try, while JJ Engelbrecht powered his way through two Samoan defenders and danced to the tryline for the third.
Samoa’s only reply was a third penalty by So’oialo, to increase their tally to nine points. And unfortunately for the visitors a yellow card for Logovii Mulipola after entering a ruck from the side didn’t assist their cause.
Bok left wing Bjorn Basson had the last say in the first half as he dived over the tryline in the dying minutes for the bonus point try and a handy 32-9 half time lead.
Samoa, however, hit back after the break for their first try of the match by lock Teofilo Paulo to reduce the deficit to 32-16 in the 46th minute.
Their efforts, however, were undone minutes later as Alesana Tuilagi was red-carded for a reckless straight-arm tackle on Bok captain Jean de Villiers, and with the team a man down, a clever pass to Habana from the back of a ruck earned the side their 5th try – and Habana his 50th - and a 37-16 lead.
Morne Steyn inflicted further damage on the Samoan’s as he took advantage of an overlap on the right wing by showing a dummy pass and diving over the chalk to inflate his team’s lead to 42-16.
A Bryan Habana yellow card in the 70th minute for knocking the ball down intentionally, however, opened the door for Junior Poluleuligaga to score Samoa’s second try a minute later, which pushed the visitors’ score to 23 points.
Bok flank Francois Louw struck back strongly by holding off three defenders to score his second try, and it was Bok replacement prop Trevor Nyakane who knocked the final nail into Samoa’s coffin with a last-minute try for a convincing 56-23 victory.
Commenting on the victory, Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer said: “We asked the forwards for a big performance and they delivered. We played typical Springbok rugby. We did the basics right and the team was strong physically, especially Willem (Alberts) and Francois (Louw), so am happy with the performance. But that said there is room for improvement, so it is important that we keep our feet on the ground.”
Meyer also praised Habana for his 50th try and said: “Bryan always delivers the goods for me; I am very proud of him. He said before the game he wanted to score three tries, and although he fell short with two, it was a fantastic effort.”
Springboks – Tries: Bryan Habana (2), Francois Louw (2), JJ Engelbrecht, Bjorn Basson, Morne Steyn, Trevor Nyakane. Conversions: Morne Steyn (3), Pat Lambie (2). Penalties: Morne Steyn (2).
Samoa – Tries: Teofilo Paulo, Junior Poluleuligaga. Conversions: James So’oialo, Paul Williams. Penalties: James So’oialo (3).