Cape Town - Sport24’s Herman Mostert highlights 5 talking points after the Springboks’ embarrassing 37-25 Rugby Championship defeat to Argentina in Durban:
1. Boks heavily penalised at scrum time
It’s no secret that Argentina’s win was built on their domination at scrum time, where the Boks were heavily punished by French referee Romain Poite.
Vincent Koch, in particular, felt the wrath of Poite’s whistle as experienced veteran Marcos Ayerza exposed the Bok rookie in merciless fashion.
The foundation laid at scrum time gave Argentina a platform to launch from and they duly cashed in on a horror day in that department for the Boks.
The Boks on Monday indicated that they would seek clarity on some of the calls made against them, with scrum coach Pieter de Villiers saying: "It certainly was a frustrating day. I don’t want this to sound like excuses, but we certainly want to get back to Romain Poite and just get some feedback and some clarity on some of the calls on Saturday," said De Villiers.
"I’ve obviously been through those scrums many times by now and some of them I don’t understand. Not one of our scrums went to completion so it’s difficult to get a technical adjustment or a technical note on the scrummaging.
"I actually thought that Vincent Koch did quite well in that first scrum and from there it seemed like Romain had a picture in his mind and it was us on the wrong side and some calls went against us."
Excuses, excuses... or do the Boks have a valid point?
2. Pumas catching the Boks cold
The Pumas caught the Boks napping when wing Juan Imhoff went over for his hat-trick in the second half.
Argentina, leading 27-13 early in the second half, were awarded a penalty close to the Bok tryline.
With medics on the field attending to players, and Bok captain Jean de Villiers chatting to his troops, Pumas flyhalf Juan Martin Hernandez took a quick tap before putting Imhoff away.
Yes, Poite should not have called time on with medics still on the field, but the Boks need to stop complaining and become more aware of happenings on the field of play.
Would the All Blacks be caught cold like? I highly doubt it...
3. Reinach’s quick tap close to the tryline
Cobus Reinach’s try in the second half was reversed when Poite went upstairs to check whether the replacement scrumhalf had taken the quick tap close to the Argentine tryline from the correct spot.
Reinach didn’t take the quick tap from the correct mark and the try was rightly reversed, but it was poor from Poite to even refer the decision upstairs, as SuperSport commentator Bob Skinstad mentioned.
It happened right in front of the referee and he should have stopped Reinach immediately. Needless to say, the game was already over as a contest at that stage.
4. Pollard's form a worry for Boks
Coach Heyneke Meyer seems reluctant to acknowledge it, but flyhalf Handre Pollard’s play is not up to the standard of an international flyhalf.
There’s no doubt he is immensely talented, but at present Pollard simply makes too many basic mistakes and his tactical kicking has remained below par for a while now.
On Saturday, he bungled two restart kicks, missed touch with a penalty, and threw one horrible forward pass.
It wasn’t nice to hear him booed off by the Kings Park faithful, but Pat Lambie and Morne Steyn should perhaps now be given game time at No 10.
5. No confidence for World Cup
The Boks’ third loss on the trot saw them slip from No 2 to No 5 on World Rugby’s official rankings. They are now behind all of England, Australia, Ireland and New Zealand with only one game left before the Rugby World Cup starts next month.
Confidence will be low and the coach probably does not know what his best starting-XV is at present.
The Boks should get through the group stage phase at the World Cup, but may face either England or Australia in the quarter-finals, before a semi-final with New Zealand looms.
On present form, it would take a brave man to bet on South Africa making the final of the showpiece event...