By STEVE MASCORD
SOUTH Africa are bidding to host the 2017 World Cup but this game highlighted the challenges they face, on and off the field.
The Rhinos were no match for a NSW Country side featuring past and future NRL stars, losing 58-18 after trailing 22-0 on the half hour. Every member of the South African starting side was from the same club – university-based Tuks
And despite promises of massive stadia being well-attended in 2017, fewer than 500 people showed up to Bosman Stadium at Brakpan, 45 minutes outside Johannesburg.
“In the next two years, see us: we’ll be on the map,” Rhinos prop Christo Louw tells League Express.
“Come to South Africa … it’s a clean country, the spirit is good, the boerwurst is nice, the T-bone is nice, we’ll have a good World Cup.”
The Country side had an early try disallowed for a forward pass but fleet-footed fullback Brad Scott found his way over at four minutes, converting himself.
Smart blindside play allowed winger Jason Raper to score the first of his three tries five minutes later and the Rhinos soon found themselves with a further hurdle when interchange forward Johan Fritz was sent to the sin bin for repeated infringements.
French referee Stephan Vincent found himself with a number of problems, not least careless high tackles which would have attracted much sterner action in Super League or the NRL.
South Africa brought a roar of approval – in Afrikaans – when scrum-half Hans Du Plessis scooped up a loose ball and ran 25 metres to score in the 32nd minute.
Country halfback Alex Moore kicked cleverly in broken play for Raper to post his second, and centre Jason Williams flashed over from a scrum, before a one-on-one steal laid the foundations for winger Tim Smith’s try.
But the home side finished the first half strongly, interchange player Jean-Di Oostheysen crossing for a converted try.
The second half was scrappier, with Raper scoring after a minor melee, and then centre Ben McAlpine posted a true hat-trick with consecutive tries in the 55th, 60th and 62nd minutes. He had what would have been a fourth pulled back for a forward pass.
When Country captain Jamie Feeney strolled over without a hand laid on him with 14 minutes to go, the contest had got to the point where both sides clearly wanted it to end.
Raper was sent to the sin bin for a professional foul late and big Shaune Bouwer bullocked his way over from close range on the bell for the South Africans.
To the credit of the home side, the only rugby union idiosyncrasy that was apparent throughout was kicking the ball pointlessly and early in the tackle count. Aside from that, it was just the greater finesse and speed of the Australians that determined the result.
“We dropped a lot of ball, it could have been 80,” said Country coach David Barnhill.
“There’s a lot of teams playing in Africa but they’ve got to start in the schools, in the under-age players because a lot of these guys are ex-rugby union players and they just don’t have the skills.”
1. Allen Kasselman (Tuks)
2. Ian Van Deventer (Tuks)
3. Hein Pretorius (Tuks)
4. Jean Coetzer (Tuks)
5. Adriaan Laidlaw (Tuks)
6. Hein Olivier (Tuks)
7. Hans Du Plessis (Tuks)
8. Christo Louw (Tuks)
9. Dean Kraemer (Tuks)
10. Shaune Bouwer (Tuks)
11. Jean-Pierre Nel (Tuks)
12. Nardus Raubenheimer (Tuks)
13. Johnathan Soares (Tuks)
INTERCHANGE (all used):
14. Elardus Erasmas (Tigers)
15. Johan Fritz (Tigers)
16. Gideon Fick (Dragons)
17. Jean-Di Oosthuysen (Tigers)
Tries: Du Plessis (32 min), Oosthuysen (38), Bouwer (80)
Goals: Olivier 3/3
1. Brad Scott (Wests Illawarra)
2. Tim Smith (Scone)
3. Ben McAlpine (Orange)
4. Simon Williams (Newcastle Wests)
5. Jason Raper (Helensburg)
6. Riley Brown (Cessnock)
7. Alex Moore (Berkley Vale)
20. Rory O’Brien (Collegians)
9. Terrence SeuSeu (Cessnock)
10. Brendan Worth (Cessnock)
17. Trent Grubb (Wests Illawarra)
12. Brendan Hlad (Cessnock)
13. Jamie Feeney (capt, Erina)
INTERCHANGE (all used):
23. Benson Tupou (Dapto)
15. Damien Paullsen (Shellharbour)
25. Chris Hyde (Woy Woy)
18. Jake Finn (Newcastle Wests)
Tries: Scott (4 min), Raper (9, 30, 45), Smith (15, 37), Williams (34), McAlpine (55, 60, 62), Feeney (66).
Goals: Scott 7 from 11
Halftime: 12-32. Referee: Stephane Vincent (France). Penalties: 8-5. GLDO: 1-1
Rugby Leaguer & League Express Men of the Match:
Country: Ben McAlpine. South Africa: Shaune Bouwer
Filed for: RUGBY LEAGUE EXPRESS