Cape Town - Sport24’s Herman Mostert highlights 5 talking points after the Springboks’ 27-20 Rugby Championship defeat to the All Blacks in Johannesburg:
1. Not taking points on offer
When All Black replacement lock Sam Whitelock was sin-binned for a cynical infringement on his own goal-line in the 60th minute, the Springboks opted for a scrum instead of taking the easy three points at goal.
The decision backfired as Vincent Koch knocked on from the subsequent scrum and the All Blacks were off the hook.
At that stage, the Boks were leading 20-17 and a six-point lead - with Whitelock still sidelined - would have been the better option.
I wrote numerous times last year about Jean de Villiers not taking points on offer and the Boks seem to be struggling in this regard.
Sometimes it can pay off - as it did for the All Blacks late in this game - but given the time and circumstances of the match, taking the three points would perhaps have been the better option.
2. Strong Bok scrum
The Springbok scrum was powerful and they had the All Blacks on the back foot throughout, until French referee Jerome Garces called for uncontested scrums midway through the second half, with both Bok tighheads (Jannie du Plessis and Vincent Koch) off injured.
The Boks still had Trevor Nyakane, who can play both loosehead and tighthead, but he was not a designated tighthead for the Test - which prompted Garces to make a technical, albeit, correct decision.
That decision aided the All Blacks greatly and helped them in clawing their way back into the contest.
3. Lood de Jager oh-so-close...
Bok lock Lood de Jager came close to scoring in the 54th minute but the Television Match Official (TMO) deemed he had grounded the ball just short of the tryline.
Just the previous week, a similar try was awarded to Wallabies centre Tevita Kuridrani as Australia beat the Boks at the death in Brisbane.
Did a part of the ball not perhaps touch a part of the chalk in De Jager’s case?
"I thought we might have the luck with a TMO call in the second half, but like last weekend, it went against us. It is part of rugby, but I really thought we did enough to score there," Bok coach Heyneke Meyer rued afterwards.
4. Jesse Kriel a future star
Despite the loss, the performance of Bok centre Jesse Kriel needs to be highlighted. He scored a brilliant try in the second half, taking a flat ball from flyhalf Handre Pollard in midfield to burst through the All Black defence.
The midfield synergy of Kriel and Damian De Allende - they gave old All Black maestros Ma’a Nonu and Conrad Smith plenty of bother - complicates coach Heyneke Meyer’s intention to bring Jean de Villiers back into the frame.
5. All Blacks clear RWC favourites
The All Blacks showed class eking out a win in a match they had trailed for large parts. They were under the cosh for most of the game but somehow managed to stay in touch and then - when it really mattered - pounced when sniffing victory.
They will be very tough to stop at the Rugby World Cup later this year.
The Boks are due to face the All Blacks in the semi-finals and if the South Africans cannot master them at the high altitude of Johannesburg, doing so on neutral ground will prove all the more troublesome...