So was it a case of aggressive defence
becoming an attacking weapon as part of a clinical softening of the
Argentinians through playing in their half and scoring from the resultant
driving mauls ... Or were the men from the land of legendary steak and red wine just
way off the pace?
We will know for sure after the next three
games, and I will be able to report back on the steak given that I am writing
this while on the plane to Mendoza, but I am going to cop out and say it was
probably a mixture of the two at FNB Stadium last Saturday.
There has been plenty of talk about the
prowess of Fourie du Preez, and he was bloody good, but with 25 minutes to go,
that Pumas side was completely blown, with the powerful Bok pack having done
the damage, giving Du Preez the ride of his life. Any scrumhalf worth his salt
would have shone in those circumstances.
The real heroes of the day were Willem
Alberts and Duane Vermeulen. Massively effective as ball carrying battering
rams in the blunt force trauma approach of the first half, these guys, with
Eben Etzebeth not far behind, made like bowling balls shot at skittles by Cape
Town’s noon day gun. And Argentina had no answer.
It was a classic case of setting the
foundations via clinical, play in the opposition half, do the basics right,
defend like Trojans rugby, which the resulted in the magnificent sky scraper of
the second half that was dominated by ball in hand, attacking rugby from every
single Bok backline player.
Full marks to Heyneke Meyer and the Boks
Not wanting to be the glass is half full,
party pooper, but my concern is four fold.
The Pumas lost three massively
influential players in Lobbe, Albacete and Hernandez either just before or during
the game, they played 20 minutes of the game with 14 players due to the two
yellow cards, they seemed not to have had a single live scrum session under the
new calls before the game, and they had absolutely no defence against the
driving mauls, quite obviously a key Bok weapon.
Bottom line being that while the Boks were
good, and stuck to a game plan Meyer is keen to use again this Saturday given
what happened in Mendoza last year, Argentina were just plain sub-standard.
For Meyer and the Bok’s sake, I hope Argentina
improve immeasurably this weekend, lest they head into games against the
Aussies and Kiwis severely undercooked.
So the big difference between the Bok side
that finished the June quadrangular in style against Samoa and the one at FNB
And this in his very first game back after a
severe, long term injury. He is an astonishingly good rugby player.
And while Alberts did play in that game
against Samoa, he was in the throes of a comeback from a long term injury at
the time. Back to his best now, the loose trio of himself, Vermeulen and
Francois Louw, who was yet again brilliant on the ground at FNB, are an
incredible balance of skill, power, pace, and guile, and are fundamental to the
The moment in the game last weekend that I
will treasure for a very long time, though, is the one that saw Bok tighthead
prop Jannie du Plessis begging his skipper to take the scrum rather than the
kick at goal or for the corner. That, my friends, is what you want from your
lump of granite disguised as a human being ...
Tank is a former Western Province tighthead prop who now heads up Tankman Media, and sprouts forth on all things rugby on the Front Row Grunt …
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