HOOKED UP: Malcolm Marx

On Saturday, coach Allister Coetzee’s men beat an under-strength France side 37-14 at Loftus.

Heading into the clash, France coach Guy Noves left out players that starred in their local Top 14 final last weekend.

And while the display by the Boks wasn’t the best ever, there were some encouraging signs.

Coetzee was pleased with his side’s performance, saying: “Nothing is perfect, neither was our game.

“We have a team environment that is growing and taking shape, you could see in the last five minutes how the guys defended.

“We know the French played without a number of their stars, yet they had us under pressure at times, but we never stopped working for each other.”

With 2016 now weggebere, it was hooker Malcolm Marx who won the official Man of the Match award after stepping into the shoes of former captain and No.2 Adriaan Strauss, who retired at the end of last year.

Marx made some strong ball carries and epitomised the determination of this new-look Bok team with his performance.

It was a bulldozing run by the hooker that ended in the Boks’ first points of the match via the boot of his Lions teammate Elton Jantjies after the French were penalised for offside from the resulting movement.

Jantjies, who brought his kicking boots to Loftus, doubled the hosts’ lead after 15 minutes (6-0).

Fullback Andries Coetzee then broke the France line and popped the ball to Marx, who found Jesse Kriel to score the game’s first five-pointer.

At 13-0 with 10 minutes left in the first half, the Boks built decent scoreboard pressure and should have put the choke on the visitors.

Instead, it was France who scored next when Coetzee failed to gather a chip kick to make it 13-7 at the break.

France scored the first try of the second half in the 56th minute, making it 16-14 for the Boks and game on.

Then in the 60th minute, Jan Serfontein stabbed through a grubber kick for Courtnall Skosan to chase and, after the wing was tackled without the ball in the goal-area, South Africa were awarded a penalty try.

Then a few seconds later, captain Warren Whiteley popped a lineout ball at the back to scrumhalf Ross Cronje, and the debutant ran in untouched to announce SA victors at Loftus.

The hosts added another try via Serfontein to make it 37-14 and a good start to the Springbok season.