The charge of the wheelchair brigade

Springbok lock Victor Matfield -- Image by © Bigshots Photos/Splash News/Corbis

Carl de Villiers, Zululand Observer

They simply roll out their golden oldie wheelchair brigade who, without much fanfare, stoically go about the business of causing mayhem among the enemy ranks before unleashing the young guns to affect the kill.

At least that was the case in Birmingham on Saturday when coach Heyneke Meyer’s warriors made amends for the embarrassing disaster against Japan, by trouncing Samoa 46-6.

Throughout the season the uninformed masses ridiculed Meyer’s so-called ‘pensioner’ selections.

He stuck to his guns, insisting the way to go was a mix of calm, experienced generals to channel the bucketload of raw ebullient talent within the ranks in the right direction.

But the historic defeat against Argentina earlier in the season and then the Japanese debacle only served to validate his detractors’ criticisms.

Meyer may yet have the last laugh.

It was his senior citizens who set up the convincing win against the Islanders.

Captain Jean de Villiers, himself under heavy pressure to make way for a Damian de Allende-Jesse Kriel midfield partnership, led the charge from the front.

Wily lock Victor Matfield is still the line-out master – and apart from his poaching activities he also ran, rucked and tackled like a demon. Coming off in the 53rd minute to a standing ovation said it all.

Tank Burger

No less impactful was loose-forward Schalk Burger’s tank-like battering ram sorties which would have earned him honorary Spartan status.

Supplementing all this was tactical maestro Fourie du Preez at scrumhalf. All doubts about his age, fitness or world class acumen evaporated in 70 plus short minutes. He is still the main man.

With these veterans slowly, but surely placing and keeping the Samoans on the back foot, the rest of the team kick into gear big time.

Perhaps the most encouraging aspect was that the backline finally came into its own. While the forwards executed their wrecking ball duties in fine style, the pace men were allowed to roam free and give free expression of their abundant talents. The result was there for all to see.

With De Allende causing all sorts of problems in the midfield and wingers JP Pietersen, Bryan Habana and fullback Willie le Roux running the defences ragged, Samoa was simply never allowed to regain their composure to make a fight of it.

So now, Scotland awaits. A tough assignment, but at least the Boks will enter this assignment with regained confidence.

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