Johan Ackermann. Picture: BACKPAGEPIX
Johan Ackermann. Picture: BACKPAGEPIX

South Africa A coach Johan Ackermann has hailed his players’ character after they beat the French Barbarians 36-28 at in the first match between the two at Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban on Friday.

In what was an ultimately comprehensive victory in front of a small but lively crowd‚ South Africa A scored six tries in the match with Harold Vorster and Lwazi Mvovo grabbing two each‚ while Sikhumbuzo Notshe and Makazole Mapimpi scored one.

"I am grateful for the win and I am proud of the guys for the character they showed in the match‚" Ackermann said.

"Credit must also go to the French. They came out to play and everybody can see that there are quality players in their side.

"To us‚ it was not easy because a lot of these guys have not played any rugby for the past three weeks and you could see that we were a bit soft in contact.

"The second half was much better and credit must go to the bench because when they came on they made a huge difference. It was an individual and team effort that was pleasing to see.

"You can fix the mistakes but you cannot fix effort and there was a lot of effort from the guys. There were combinations that you could see that if this team stay together for a long time they will become better‚ because people start to feel and understand each other and that takes time.

"I can’t fault the players because they came to the camp with the right attitude from day one and they were willing to train and learn."

South Africa A’s score could have been higher but Lionel Cronje missed three conversions. Ackermann said‚ though his flyhalf was not spot on with the boot‚ Cronje impressed with his touches on the ball.

"There were a lot of individual performances — guys did a lot of hard work. I think someone like Lionel Cronje showed a lot of good touches. The guys upfront contested lineouts very well‚ which was pleasing to see‚" the coach said.

South Africa A and the French Barbarians travel to Johannesburg for the second and final match at Orlando Stadium in Soweto on Friday night.

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