South Africa captain John Smit was in buoyant mood after the world champions saved the best for last on their UK tour with a record-breaking 42-6 defeat of England here at Twickenham.
Victory, the Springboks’ sixth straight win over the side they beat 15-6 in last year’s World Cup final, saw them inflict upon England the hosts’ heaviest home loss in 136 years of Test rugby on English soil.
The rampant Springboks ran in five tries from Danie Rossouw, Ruan Pieenaar, Adrian Jacobs, Jaque Fourie and Bryan Habana.
Four of those were converted, three by Pieenar and one by Francois Steyn, with Pienaar also landing three penalties.
Unlike their preceding wins over Six Nations champions Wales (20-15) and Scotland (14-10), there was never the remotest doubt about Saturday’s outcome in what was South Africa’s last scheduled Test before the start of a three-match series with the British and Irish Lions in June.
And having seen off three-quarters of the teams who will make up the Lions – South Africa’s tour didn’t feature a game against Ireland – a satisfied Smit said: “It certainly was an objective to gain some momentum for next year, the magnitude of which will be ten-times what we’ve had over the last three weeks.
“I’m extremely happy with what we’ve seen and we’ve got a lot to work with in June,” the hooker, one of seven survivors from the team he captained to World Cup glory in Paris in October last year, added.
Smit said he felt something special was on the cards even before kick-off.
“I knew England had few problems coming up when we walked out of the changing room. You just get that feeling sometimes.” South Africa conceded a penalty in the opening minute but Smit was unworried. “We couldn’t have had a worse start yet no-one flinched.” South Africa coach Peter de Villiers, who took over from World Cup supremo Jake White, had come under fire for overseeing four defeats as the Springboks finished bottom of this year’s Tri-Nations, even though they won in New Zealand and ended the tournament by thrashing Australia, comfortable victors themselves over England last weekend, 53-8.
But with a post-World Cup record under de Villiers, the first black coach of South Africa, now reading played 14, won 10 and lost four, Smit added: “The character of these guys, it’s amazing, the more they get criticised the more they keep on proving their critics wrong.” Several Springbok stalwarts had missed their last match at Twickenham, a 25-14 victory two years ago, when White opted to rest key players ahead of the World Cup in a bid to develop his squad’s strength in depth.