HARD WORK NEEDED

ALTHOUGH Springbok coach Peter de Villiers would have been relieved with the narrow 34-31 win over Wales at the Millennium Stadium at the weekend, he will be the first to admit that a lot of work lies ahead for his squad.

ALTHOUGH Springbok coach Peter de Villiers would have been relieved with the narrow 34-31 win over Wales at the Millennium Stadium at the weekend, he will be the first to admit that a lot of work lies ahead for his squad.

The Bok starting line-up was a mixture of overseas based and local players who had little more than 72 hours to gel ... and in the first 20 minutes of the game it showed.

The cohesion of a side that plays week in and week out was absent, but credit must go to a Springbok side that, when down 3-16 with just a quarter of the game gone, managed to claw their way back to eventually take the match by the narrowest of margins in front of 60000 fans.

While the eventual score may suggest it was a free-flowing game, it was also a match that had the intensity one comes to expect of Test rugby.

The scrum looked solid throughout the game, the lineout performed with precision. But in the loose things often went awry.

When captain John Smit found himself in the unfamiliar position of flyhalf, he threw a pass he would rather forget. For Wales centre Jame Hook it was a gift from heaven as he intercepted the ball to race away and touch down under the posts.

But the Boks didn't panic and a well-worked try by left wing Odwa Ndungane shortly before half time at 14-16.

If the first half belonged to the Welsh, the majority of the second half was the Boks'.

Tries by debutant Juan de Jongh and Dewald Potgieter meant the visitors took a commanding second half lead 31-19 with just 10 minutes remaining before the Welsh had a late surge with Tom Prydie and Alun-Wyn Jones picking up five-pointers.

De Jongh's try was of the class we've come to expect of the talented 21-year-old.

Playing in only his first international, he showed a great deal of composure as his footwork left the opposition clutching the air as he weaved his way to the try line.

It's the beginning of a long, hard season for the Springboks and a win here - with what was largely a makeshift team - will give the players and coach a great deal of confidence when considering the circumstances they achieved this result in.

It was a narrow win, but a win nonetheless as the side prepares for a sterner challenge come Saturday when they front up to Six Nations champions France at Newlands, Cape Town.

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