South Africa 40-9 Georgia: Springboks mark return to action with commanding win

By Sports Desk July 02, 2021

South Africa marked their return to Test action with a commanding 40-9 victory over Georgia at Loftus Versfeld Stadium on Friday.

The Springboks had not competed since winning the Rugby World Cup in November 2019 due to the coronavirus pandemic and initially took time to get going in Pretoria.

But the hosts slowly loosened up on and crossed over six times to make a positive start to preparations for their upcoming three-match Test series with the British and Irish Lions

Aphelele Fassi was one of two players making their debut for the Boks, along with Rosko Specman, and he marked the occasion with the first try inside the opening five minutes from his very first touch.

Georgia had already got on the board by that point through Tedo Abzhandadze's penalty, and the fly-half kicked over twice more before South Africa next registered.

Following a sustained spell of pressure, Bongi Mbonambi went over from the maul to give the home team a platform to build on and they did not look back.

The world champions made the most of their man advantage after Beka Saghinadze was sin-binned as Cobus Reinach gathered a Fassi kick and raced through before half-time.

South Africa had more of a cutting edge to them in the second half, with Kwagga Smith picking up from the base to cross over and Herschel Jantjies doing likewise five minutes later thanks to some smart play from Handre Pollard.

Malcolm Marx was next to dot down following a powerful rolling maul as Jacques Nienaber's side moved through the gears.

The Springboks passed up a couple of promising situations in the remaining 10 minutes, but the damage had already been done as they claimed victory in the first of their two Tests with Georgia ahead of facing the Lions on July 24.

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    South Africa and Netherlands could abandon their three-match ODI series without a match being completed as escalating COVID-19 concerns coincided with a rain abandonment on Friday.

    Worries about an emerging strand of the coronavirus have caused a number of countries, including the Netherlands, to halt incoming flights from South Africa.

    The Dutch cricket board – the KNCB – has held discussions with Cricket South Africa (CSA) about prospects for the scheduled second and third matches in their series going ahead on Sunday and Wednesday, promising a swift decision.

    The first game at SuperSport Park in Centurion fell victim to the weather on Friday, with South Africa totting up 277-8 before Netherlands were halted at 11-0 in their reply as rain fell.

    Centurion is located in Gauteng Province, which is where a large proportion of cases of the new COVID-19 strand have been detected. SuperSport Park is also due to stage the second and third games in the series.

    In a joint statement, both boards said: "Cricket South Africa and Koninklijke Nederlandse Cricket Bond are aware of news reports doing the rounds regarding the Netherlands tour to South Africa being cancelled or postponed.

    "Both boards can confirm that following updated information, it is highly unlikely that the visiting team will be able to fly out of South Africa before their scheduled flight. The KNCB is reviewing all of its options, while prioritising the physical and mental well-being of its players.

    "A decision on the continuation of the series will follow in the next 24 to 48 hours, while all flight options are being considered."

    Kyle Verreynne anchored South Africa's innings in the opening ODI, coming in at 24-2 and going on to make 95 from 112 deliveries.

    Janneman Malan (16) and Reeza Hendricks (6) faltered at the top of the order as both fell to Fred Klaassen (2-45), but Verreynne and Zubayr Hamza (56) put on 119 for the third wicket.

    A top-edged pull from Hamza off Brandon Glover saw Scott Edwards take an easy catch to break up that alliance, and Verreynne was one big hit away from a maiden international century when he flogged a full toss from Vivian Kingma to Bas de Leede on the deep square leg boundary.

    Andile Phehlukwayo flayed the Dutch attack for 48 from 22 balls, hitting six sixes before Glover improved his expensive figures slightly to 2-70 by bowling the all-rounder with the final ball of the innings.

  • Erasmus and SA Rugby opt against appeal and apologise for criticism of officials Erasmus and SA Rugby opt against appeal and apologise for criticism of officials

    Rassie Erasmus and SA Rugby have withdrawn their intention to appeal against sanctions imposed and have apologised to match officials for misconduct during the British and Irish Lions series.

    South Africa director of rugby Erasmus was last week banned from all rugby activities for two months and suspended from matchday activities until September 30 next year.

    Erasmus was in hot water after he accused the Lions of "reckless and dangerous" play in their 22-17 win in the first Test in July and hit out at the standard of refereeing from Nic Berry.

    The World Cup-winning coach also made the claims in a 62-minute video clip posted on social media as he highlighted what he felt were a number of calls that went against the world champions.

    Erasmus also retweeted clips from an anonymous Twitter user, alleged to be one of his own accounts, highlighting "questionable calls".

    World Rugby last week revealed that an independent misconduct committee found the 49-year-old was guilty of all six charges that were brought against him.

    The 49-year-old was also warned about his future conduct and told to issue an apology to the relevant match officials, while a fine of £20,000 was issued to SA Rugby along with a warning over the governing body's conduct going forward.

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    A statement released by SA Rugby on Thursday said: "SA Rugby and Rassie Erasmus wish to apologise to the match officials appointed to the first Test of the Springboks' Series against the British and Irish Lions.

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    A World Rugby statement said: "World Rugby welcomes the public apology from SA Rugby and Rassie Erasmus to the match officials involved in the first test between South Africa and the British and Irish Lions this year and the matter is closed."

  • Shamsi: Proteas won't be 'slacking off' against Netherlands Shamsi: Proteas won't be 'slacking off' against Netherlands

    Tabraiz Shamsi says there is no chance South Africa will be "slacking off" when they face the Netherlands in a historic three-match ODI series.

    Temba Bavuma is among a host of South Africa players to be given a rest for matches that will form part of the Cricket World Cup Super League, so Keshav Maharaj leads the side in a series that starts at SuperSport Park on Friday.

    South Africa are ninth in the Super League standings, while the Netherlands are bottom but have only played three matches as they eye a place in the 2023 World Cup.

    The Dutch are very much underdogs for their first full international series against the Proteas in South Africa.

    Shamsi says South Africa will not be taking anything for granted as they look to put the disappointment of missing out on the T20 World Cup semi-finals behind them.

    The spinner said: "It is going to be a good challenge. They are obviously going to be up to the fight but so are we because we have some new guys in the squad. That's a lovely opportunity for all of us to put in performances and to put our hands up.

    "As you have seen, we have a World Cup basically every year and we always want to win but the simple thing is to prepare as best as we can.

    "We can't take these guys lightly because they have quality players in the squad. They have a lot of guys who have been playing county cricket as well but we are definitely not slacking off.

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    Proteas pacers can show strength in depth

    South Africa are set to unleash a new-look pace attack on the Netherlands after Lungi Ngidi joined the list of absentees following his positive coronavirus test.

    With Kagiso Rabada and Anrich Nortje rested, there will be a chance for Sisanda Magala, Daryn Dupavillon and Junior Dala to charge in.

    The experienced Wayne Parnell makes a long-awaited return, while Dwaine Pretorius and Andile Phehlukwayo are also included.

    Khaya Zondo is also back in the squad over three years after the middle-order batsman played his last ODI.

     

    Feeling at home on tour

    The tourists will have a former South Africa international in their ranks as Roelof van der Merwe returns to his homeland.

    Colin Ackermann, Stephan Myburgh, Brandon Glover and Clayton Floyd were also born in South Africa, while Ryan ten Doeschate has taken on a mentor role following his recent retirement. 

    The Netherlands have been smarting from failing to qualify for the Super 12 stage of the T20 World Cup, having lost all three matches.

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