Cape Town - Sport24’s Herman Mostert highlights FIVE talking points following the Springboks’ 30-23 Rugby Championship victory over Argentina in Nelspruit.
1. Curb the victory celebrations
While doing live updates on the game, I sensed a Springbok comeback as the Argentines started capitulating late in the game, giving away one penalty after the other.
That seems to be the South American way. They just can’t help themselves and revert to ill-discipline when put under immense pressure.
Afterwards, I wrote that the Springboks deserved praise for showing courage to fight back, but there was no need for over-optimism.
We must not hide behind the fact that it was another below-par Springbok performance.
Had they played the All Blacks on Saturday, a 42-8 reverse would surely also have been on the cards, as the Wallabies found out the hard way.
There was not much improvement from the Ireland series, when the Boks struggled to subdue an injury depleted team at the tail-end of a long, gruelling season.
Los Pumas were without overseas stars like Juan Imhoff, Marcos Ayerza, Marcelo Bosch and Juan Martin Fernandez Lobbe.
It was pretty much the same Jaguares team which struggled badly in Super Rugby.
The Springboks’ defence was again substandard, while their finishing was at times dreadful.
Marked improvement is needed!
2. Habana yellow card
Many will say Bryan Habana’s yellow card was harsh, as he slipped when he made contact with an airborne Santiago Cordero.
But the Bok wing can perhaps count himself lucky that he did not receive a red card.
Earlier in the season in a Super Rugby match between the Stormers and Waratahs at Newlands, the home side’s wing, Leolin Zas, received a red card for a similar incident.
Zas was sent off after taking out Waratahs flyhalf Bernard Foley while the latter was air-borne catching a high ball.
Zas had also slipped before he made contact, but afterwards it was said that technically the right decision was made to give a red card.
Habana’s incident was similar, yet he only saw yellow.
Surely if there was any consistency from referees then Habana would have received a red card.
But it’s a silly rule which needs to be reviewed by World Rugby. The intent of the player should be taken into consideration and then Habana would have only conceded a penalty.
The powers that be need to realise that it’s a contact sport, and collisions like these will occur from time to time...
3. Jantjies blows hot and cold
Bok flyhalf Elton Jantjies produced a mixed-bag. He did a few good things on attack, but is clearly still learning to dictate proceedings at Test level.
Jantjies’ goal-kicking remains a work in progress, while two glaring errors almost cost his team dearly.
He crucially knocked on early in the second half, allowing Argentina to boot up-field and put the Boks under immense pressure, while a few minutes later it got comical when Jantjies, trying to clear from his own goal-line, booted the ball straight into the face of on-looking skipper Adriaan Strauss, allowing Argentina a five-metre scrum.
Silly errors like these will get punished by a team like the All Blacks.
4. Issues at fullback
I couldn’t help but notice some pundits express their satisfaction regarding the performance on Johan Goosen at fullback.
A local newspaper gave him 7/10 in their ratings, lauding the player for displaying “promise throughout”.
I’m sorry, but I cannot share those sentiments. Goosen’s positioning was rather poor throughout and he was unable to take care of several high balls which put his team under pressure.
The SuperSport pundits noted in the studio afterwards that perhaps Goosen was trying a little too hard.
Yes, he did show some promising signs on attack, but looked at sea too often for coach Allister Coetzee to be happy about the fullback depth at his disposal.
There was large satisfaction when the under-performing Willie le Roux was dropped, but it should be a real worry that there are not many fullbacks staking a claim for higher honours in the country at present.
5. Some shining lights
It wasn’t all bad from the Springboks and some positives need to be highlighted.
They largely dominated at scrum time, scrumhalf Faf de Klerk was sublime and instrumental in turning the game around, while the impact made by substitutes like Jaco Kriel and Pieter-Steph du Toit was welcome to see.
South African fans can perhaps also take heart from the fact that they created several opportunities to score, despite their finishing letting them down.