The Springboks gave their supporters a bunch of green and gold treats this season, writes Quintin van Jaarsveld as he selects the 10 best tries the world champions scored in 2022.
South Africa are often criticized for their power-based style but there can be no denying they scored some fantastic five-pointers across the three-Test series against Wales, the Rugby Championship and on their end-of-year tour.
Injuries forced the director of rugby Rassie Erasmus and coach Jacques Nienaber to make a few changes, many of whom added new dimensions to and made the Springboks more dangerous out wide.
Without further ado, here are my top Springbok tries of the season:
Turnover’s Fair Play
A week after his breakdown masterclass against the All Blacks, Malcolm Marx was at it again in the rematch at Ellis Park, snatching a tremendous turnover with Damian Willemse throwing a wonderful missile out to Makazole Mapimpi to land the counterpunch.
Marx – imum Effort
A testament to his extraordinary gas tank and underrated ball skills, Malcolm Marx scurried and held onto an outstanding one-handed take of Makazole Mapimpi’s pass to score his second and the Springboks’ all-important bonus-point try in the final play of the game against the Pumas in Buenos Aires.
10: Precision Under Pressure
Trailing by nine with 15 minutes to go in their season-opener against Wales in Pretoria, the Springboks soaked up the pressure with precision passes from playmakers Willie le Roux and Damian Willemse and a perfectly-weighted grubber by Damian de Allende for Cheslin Kolbe, who coolly cashed in.
9: Skillful Giant
Eben Etzebeth showed his motor, power, and underrated skill to stylishly set up Kurt-Lee Arendse for a try against Ireland at the Aviva Stadium after taking a pop pass from a grounded Willie le Roux.
8: Finishing On A High
The Springboks narrowly missed out on the title but finished the Rugby Championship on a high with this final try against Argentina in Durban, Ox Nche showing he has a good pass on him, Jesse Kriel demanding two defenders’ attention, and the outside backs combining sweetly for Kurt-Lee Arendse to convert.
7: Dream Debut
In one of the most magical moments of the season, 19-year-old Canan Moodie celebrated becoming the second-youngest Springbok in the professional era by soaring over Wallabies counterpart Marika Koroibete to pluck Jaden Hendrikse’s pinpoint kick out of the air and canter in for a spectacular maiden Test try on debut in Sydney.
6: Iam Legend
Self-belief goes a long way like Lukhanyo Am showed against the All Blacks at Ellis Park. Winging it in a reshuffled Springbok backline brought about by a head knock to Jesse Kriel, the World Player of the Year nominee received a great pass from Willie le Roux, backed himself, and beat both wings in a phone booth to score a vital try just before halftime.
5: Prolific Pair
Prolific playmakers Manie Libbok and Willie le Roux joined forces for the first time against Italy and the results were spectacular. The pair were at the heart of this long-range, multi-phase team try rounded off by Kurt-Lee Arendse, as EK Rugby Analysis brilliantly broke down on Twitter.
4: Reaping Rewards
Doubling up after breaking a tackle and offloading to Steven Kitshoff against Australia in Sydney, Siya Kolisi dove onto a loose ball and kept the play alive. The men in green and gold maximised their captain’s hard work, finding fantastic synergy with Jasper Wiese’s offload particularly pivotal as Franco Mostert galloped over in the corner.
3: Spring – bok
Who else but Cheslin Kolbe conjured up the finest individual try of the year when he took flight to pluck a Springbok restart out of the air and race away against the Azzurri at a stunned Stadio Luigi Ferraris.
2: A Star Is Born
Kurt-Lee Arendse’s maiden Test try was a special one. Spectacular in the air in the Rugby Championship opener at Mbombela Stadium, the pocket rocket created the opportunity by forcing Beauden Barrett to spill Handre Pollard’s pinpoint up-and-under. Lukhanyo Am’s awareness was off the charts as he grabbed the rebound and produced a magical offload to put Arendse away.
1: Show Me The Manie
Super-sub Manie Libbok thrilled in just his second Test against Italy, the flair-filled flyhalf’s magical cameo including him uncorking the pass of the year to set Cobus Reinach’s try in motion, with Kurt-Lee Arendse also doing well to cut inside and feed the replacement scrumhalf.