The 'great call' that convinced Kolisi 14-man Springboks would win
Thrilled Springboks skipper Siya Kolisi has saluted the ability of his team to suck up the anxiety of their latest red card and not let it prevent them from comfortably defeating England at Twickenham. Sub tighthead Thomas du Toit dubiously had one of the shortest-lived Test appearances when sent off within a couple of minutes of his second-half arrival.
There was no argument against the decision of referee Angus Gardner to send the front-rower packing – the more the footage was replayed on the two big screens inside the stadium, the more gruesome did the replacement’s shoulder-to-head impact on Luke Cowan-Dickie look.
Having watched England revel in a three-try, eight-minute flourish just last weekend to draw 25-all with the All Blacks after the Kiwis had lost Beauden Barrett to a 72nd-minute yellow card, there was surely a worry amongst the Springboks that they would have to defend for 19 minutes – twice the length of last week’s result-altering sin-binning – a man down.
However, whereas New Zealand leaked 19 points to surrender a 25-6 lead, there was no away team panic on Saturday as the Springboks comfortably protected their 27-6 lead to win 27-13 with England unable to manage an attack after their 72nd-minute Henry Slade consolation.
How the visitors made it look so easy was a topic that Kolisi readily engaged post-game with, even though that closing quarter of the match was a period in which he too was forced off the field to get checked out, resulting in Evan Roos, the starting No8, coming back on with seven minutes to play.
“There is nothing we haven’t faced this year,” began Kolisi, embracing how the Springboks reacted to this latest game where they want a man down. “We had a red card before [Pieter-Steph du Toit versus France], so we were prepared for it. What I said to the guys was, ‘We just keep on going and we just work harder for one another. They already knew, so you just have to work for an extra man…”
That work was helped by the Springboks quickly deciding after the red card exit of Thomas du Toit to get starting tighthead Frans Malherbe back onto the pitch, resulting in the substitution of winger Makazole Mapimpi.
“I thought having eight forwards made it a little bit easier for us,” Kolisi continued. “It was a great call from the coaches because we know it is going to be a contest in the scrum with a tighthead that went off. We just felt good and we knew we just wanted to stay out of the breakdown.
“The guys who are capable of going in, like Malcolm (Marx) and Steven (Kitshoff), they did go but we just said we are going to work hard and get stuck in and our game plan is not going to change. It’s just that the other wing was to move to the other side (when needed). We were prepared for it because we have faced it before.”
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