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Matfield praises new Springboks Kriel and Koch

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Stand-in South Africa captain Victor Matfield has praised newcomeres Jesse Kriel and Vincent Koch who played in South Africa’s Rugby Championship warm up against a World XV in Cape Town.

South Africa won the exhibition match 46-10 and Kriel started at outside centre while Koch replaced veteran tighthead prop Jannie du Plessis during the second half at Newlands stadium as South Africa scored seven tries.

“The performances of Jesse and Vincent were among the positives,” said 38-year-old Test veteran Matfield, who was deputising for Jean de Villiers.

It was the first of five matches designed to prepare the Springboks for the World Cup in England during September and October.

“I thought Damian de Allende also did very well,” he said, referring to the two-try inside centre.

“And it was great to see Jean (de Villiers) back in action after a long injury lay-off.”

De Villiers came off the bench during the second half to a standing ovation and showed no ill effects of a long rehabilitation after a serious knee injury in Wales last November.

But Matfield warned his team-mates not to get carried away by a record 36-point winning margin in seven matches against World selections.

“There were a lot of mistakes and we must study the match video and correct them quickly. We need to sharpen up before facing Australia.”

South Africa meet the Wallabies next Saturday in Brisbane at the start of a Rugby Championship shortened from six rounds to three because of the World Cup in England.

The Springboks face New Zealand in Johannesburg on July 25 and Argentina in Durban on August 8, then travel to Buenos Aires for an August 15 non-Championship Test against the Pumas.

A 31-man World Cup squad will be named on August 28 in Durban ahead of Pool B maches against Japan, Samoa, Scotland and the United States.

Legendary Springbok lock Bakkies Botha ended his playing career by captaining the World XV against the country he represented 85 times.

The long-time enforcer within the South African pack shed tears as he spoke minutes after the final whistle.

“I am leaving the wonderful game of rugby with peace in my heart,” he said.

“My farewell could not have been any better than this — playing against the Springboks in South Africa.

“The Springboks were very good today and from now on I am going to support them wholeheartedly.

“It was great to see Jean (de Villiers) back in the green and gold and I wish him and the rest of the boys all the best at the World Cup.”

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