Springboks admit relief at taming Lions
Butch James, the Classic Springboks head coach, believes his side can take plenty of confidence from their hard-fought 17-5 victory over the Classic Lions on Monday night.
James, who missed the match at North Field, National Sports Centre, because of a leg injury, admits it was a relief to make a winning start to the World Rugby Classic, having lost to Canada in last year's opening round.
South Africa got off to a blistering start, scoring all of their points in a dominant first-half display.
The first two tries came courtesy of wing Tonderai Chavhanga, who scored in the fifth and nineteenth minutes before scrum half Charl McLeod intercepted a wayward pass to race clear and score in the 22nd minute.
“We were delighted with the win,” said James, who won the World Cup with South Africa in 2007. “The Lions are always incredibly tough to come up against and they proved that again.
“Last year, we failed to win a game, so to at least get this one under our belts is a big relief and now we can look forward to the semi-finals.”
“The second half, in particular, was very tough because they kept coming and threw everything at us, so I'm really proud of how our boys stuck to their task and stayed in there. It was a big effort from everyone.
James, a fly half, who won 40 caps for his country, added: “Perhaps we ran out of legs in the second-half, so that is something we will have to be wary of, but the effort in defence was outstanding.
“The first half was definitely the crucial time for us and we managed to score all of our points in that opening 30 minutes.”
South Africa will face the Irish Rugby Legends in the semi-finals tomorrow at 8.30pm, while the Lions will take on the USA Classic Eagles in the Plate semi-finals at 7.15pm.
“All we ask from the lads is full effort, so if we get that and the win then we're all happy,” James, 40, added.
“There are some very strong teams out here, so we'll just be taking it in our stride and seeing how far we can go.
“Every game is tough and I don't think some of our new players realised just how tough it would be.”
In tonight's games, Rugby Canada face France Classic Rugby in the Plate semi-finals at 7.15pm, while Classic Pumas, the defending champions, play Rugby Italian in the semi-finals at 8.30pm.