The Springboks turned on the style to give hosts England a hiding reminiscent of their 2019 World Cup triumph, as they ended their year on the perfect note with a 27-13 win at Twickenham on Saturday night.
The scoreline was not a full reflection of the Boks dominance, with a red card to Thomas du Toit with 20 minutes to play giving the hosts a boost, from which they managed to eventually get their only try of the game.
But it did not take away from a brilliant performance from the visitors, who absolutely dominated England’s pack, while their backline ran riot, in a wonderful showing of unpredictability that kept the hosts guessing the whole game.
Asked if this win was as sweet as the Boks’ impressive victory over the All Blacks in Mbombela back in August, coach Jacques Nienaber admitted that it was right up there.
“We’ve had a couple of special results as a team, but this was the first win for Siya and I at Twickenham, so it was very special to us,” said Nienaber.
“The forwards were outstanding and created a nice platform to attack off and then our backs used their opportunities. So it was a team effort in terms of the forwards laying a nice foundation for us and the backs having a go.”
With the match falling outside of the international Test window, the Boks were missing a number of players, including a handful of starters which opened the door for some of the fringe players to get a run.
Eighthman Evan Roos enjoyed a good game, as well as lock Marvin Orie, who really took his chance in the last two games after seemingly falling out of favour during the Rugby Championship.
Flyhalf Manie Libbok was once again a livewire off the bench, while Marco van Staden enjoyed a decent second half cameo.
Costly red card
However not every fringe player took their chance, as prop Thomas du Toit, who is fairly far down the Bok pecking order, picked up a costly red card that may have ended any chance of him going to next year’s world cup.
“We always have a match outside of the Test window and it’s always nice for us because it gives us an opportunity to play without the overseas based players,” explained Nienaber.
“So we had a couple of guys who were not available for selection, but we also had a couple of guys who were really knocking hard on the door and it was great to give those guys an opportunity in a big game like this.
“It’s always good to give them a chance in a high pressure environment in front of a packed Twickenham, which can be pretty hostile, and it’s good to see how they handle that.”
The Bok regulars also shone in the match, with utility forward Franco Mostert producing an outstanding game to receive the man-of-the-match award, among a host of players who could have gotten it.
Ox Nche, Bongi Mbonambi, Frans Malherbe, Malcolm Marx and Steven Kitshoff were all immense as they decimated the England pack throughout the match.
Damian Willemse produced his best performance at flyhalf, landing a couple of superb drop goals, while showing a fantastic attacking flair throughout.
The electrifying Kurt-Lee Arendse was amazing once again, scoring a fantastic try, while Faf de Klerk and Willie le Roux impressed as well.
Eben Etzebeth and captain Siya Kolisi were once again ever present in attack and defence, with it a top all-round effort from the whole team in the end.