South Africa ‘A’ coach Johan Ackermann was pleased with the performance of his team in their 36-28 victory over the French Barbarians at the Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban on Friday evening.
The South Africans held a slender 22-21 lead at the break in this first ever representative rugby match played at the iconic venue, where 9,071 spectators were treated to some excellent tries on Youth Day, which also offered free entry to all spectators under the age of 18.
A late try by fullback Lwazi Mvovo sealed the win over the French, who Ackermann admitted, surprised his team with their commitment to defense.
“They really defended well and that surprised us,” said Ackermann.
“They are full of capable players and that was a good experience for our guys. A lot of players have only played Vodacom Super Rugby and domestic rugby, so it’s good for them to experience playing the French.
“Overall, it was a good exercise and we will be better next Friday when we meet them again at Orlando Stadium in Soweto, but so will they.”
Ackermann admitted that his players were a bit rusty, but understood the lack of recent action amongst his squad contributing to that.
“The guys have not played in a while and that showed,” said Ackermann.
“But we did well consider the fact that these were players from different regions getting together, they had to adapt from different structures into ours. There were one of two individual stand-outs, but overall we did well and I was very pleased with our scrums and lineouts.”
South Africa ‘A’ captain, Juan de Jongh, said the team enjoyed playing at Moses Mabhida Stadium: “There was a good atmosphere and the crowd actually helped in the end. We came together well as a squad and next week will be better as we will use the week to get better.”
SA ‘A’ – Tries: Lwazi Mvovo (2), Makazole Mapimpi, Sikhumbuzo Notshe, Harold Vorster (2). Conversions: Lionel Cronjé (2), Fred Zeilinga (1).
French Barbarians – Tries: Yann Lesgourgues, Fred Michalak, Anthony Belleau (2). Conversions: Michalak (4).