South Africa coach Rassie Erasmus described debutant Herschel Jantjies as “awesome” after the 23-year-old scrum-half scored two tries in a 35-17 triumph over Australia in their opening Rugby Championship clash on Saturday.
Jantjies put the hosts ahead after just seven minutes at Johannesburg’s Ellis Park before Lood De Jager extended the Springboks’ advantage.
Dane Haylett-Petty gave Australia hope with his side’s opening try of the evening to leave them trailing 14-10 at the interval.
But South Africa dominated after the break. Sibusiso Nkosi got his name on the scoresheet with 55 minutes gone.
Jantjies then went over for a second time before substitute Cobus Reinach sealed a convincing bonus-point victory in the closing seconds for the Springboks.
Jantjies’ highlight was a brilliant 62nd-minute try as he stole away down the blindside that gave the home team a decisive 28-10 lead.
South Africa v Australia | TRC Rd 1 Highlights— Super Rugby/TRC (@SuperRugby) July 20, 2019
A strong debut performance from Herschel Jantjies propels the @Springboks to a 35-17 bonus point win over the @qantaswallabies in Johannesburg. #RugbyChampionship #TRC2019 #RSAvAUS pic.twitter.com/fHHDxg53bv
“Herschel showed that he is definitely comfortable at this level and one can have nothing other than praise for him,” said Erasmus of the Stormers half-back, who has just one season of Super Rugby behind him.
“To come straight from Super Rugby and play like that – his service, his box-kicks, his technique, his grit on defence and of course his marvellous attacking ability – were awesome.
“It was a great start to his Springbok career,” added Erasmus of the official man of the match.
The Springboks ran in five tries to two as they pulled away in the second half, turning a tight 14-10 half-time lead into something approaching a rout for a perfect boost ahead of meeting the world champion All Blacks next weekend.
But while Erasmus was delighted with the result, and some of the individual showings, as he fielded an experimental XV as part of his World Cup planning, he said there would be more to come from his team.
“The performance itself wasn’t close to world-class, it was more about individuals who put their hands up and showed that they can prosper at international level,” he said.
“But we expected that because the team hasn’t played for a while. Rust was obviously one of our worries and whether the combinations would gel, but it came on through the game, even though it was stop-start.
“It was a bit frustrating but individuals showed some great form. But next week in New Zealand we’ll be fresh, the bulk of the team have flown over already and are used to the time zone and acclimatised.
“Plus some guys tonight have really put their hands up. Our last three games against the All Blacks have all been decided by a couple of points, so we are expecting a massive game.”
New Zealand held off an Argentina fightback to secure a narrow 20-16 victory in their opening match of the Rugby Championship in Buenos Aires.
Ngani Laumape scored first to put the All Blacks, who will bid to win their third successive World Cup later this year, in front before Brodie Retallick extended the visitors’ lead to 20-9 at the interval.
Emiliano Boffelli crossed early in the second half as the hosts piled on the pressure in the hope of an upset.
But, despite being some way short of their best, the All Blacks held firm to see out the match and extend their unbeaten record against Argentina to 29 games.
New Zealand chalked up a 450th Test win despite resting many of the Canterbury Crusaders stars who won a third consecutive Super Rugby title two weeks ago.
Playmaker Nicolas Sanchez missed a kickable penalty soon after the restart that would have reduced the gap to a single point before a large, passionate home crowd.
A measure of the dominance of the hosts was that it took the visiting side 33 minutes of the second half to get into the Argentine 22.
At the death, the Pumas forced two lineouts close to the All Blacks line, but the try that would have given them a historic victory proved elusive.
New Zealand gave first caps to run-on winger Sevu Reece and substitutes Atu Moli, Luke Jacobson and Braydon Ennor, and coach Steve Hansen was generally pleased.
“I observed a lot of things, and most of them were positive,” said the 2015 World Cup-winning coach.
“These are young guys and they were thrust into Test rugby in one of the most intimidating sporting environments in the world.
“We were rusty at times which can be partly explained by the fact that we were testing new combinations.
“I thought our defending was outstanding, but we let a few scoring opportunities slip. We will grow from here in the Rugby Championship.”
South Africa head coach Rassie Erasmus has named a strong 26-man squad for the Springboks‘ latest training camp as they continue their preparations for the forthcoming international season.
Frans Steyn, Cobus Reinach, Marcell Coetzee and Rynardt Elstadt have been included in the squad that gathered in Pretoria on Sunday.
There are a handful of English-based players in the group, with Vincent Koch (Saracens), Franco Mostert (Gloucester), Faf De Klerk (Sale Sharks) and Cobus Reinach (Northampton Saints) all selected by Erasmus.
Players from the Bulls and Sharks who took part in the weekend’s Super Rugby quarter-final matches will join the camp in the coming days.
The Springboks kick off their shortened Rugby Championship campaign on July 20 against the Wallabies in Johannesburg facing New Zealand in Wellington a week later.
The Boks conclude the championship against Argentina on August 10 in Salta, while the two teams will meet again a week later in Pretoria in a one-off Test before South Africa report for Rugby World Cup training.
Provided by Press Association Sport