Saturday’s African derby against neighbours Namibia, although predictably lopsided and tough to watch at times, served its purpose for the Springboks, writes Quintin van Jaarsveld.
One cannot be overly critical of a 57-3 win, especially when it came on the same day that hosts Japan sent shockwaves through Rugby World Cup 2019 with their sensational upset against Ireland, South Africa’s likely quarterfinal opponents.
It’s clear that the Springboks learned from their shock loss to the Brave Blossoms four years ago as they gave Namibia the necessary respect, focused on the task at hand and got the job done in Toyota City.
It wasn’t as clinical a performance as Rassie Erasmus would’ve hoped for, but it was nevertheless a momentum-building bonus-point win that saw South Africa open their account and put the disappointing 23-13 defeat to the All Blacks squarely in the rearview window.
The 2019 vintage understand it’s dangerous to give underdogs a sniff – a lesson the Irish, who entered the global showpiece as the world’s number one team, learned the hard way – and it was evident that they were fuelled by focus in the way they stayed structured to sew up the four-try (three coming from driving mauls) bonus-point and effectively the win after just 27 minutes.
That’s one of the boxes the Boks’ ticked at the weekend – showcasing the all-important mental strength required to succeed in the high-stakes World Cup environment.