Cape Town - Sport24’s Herman Mostert highlights FIVE talking points following the Springboks’ 19-13 series-clinching win over Ireland in Port Elizabeth:
1. Willie le Roux lucky to only see yellow
I feel Springbok fullback Willie le Roux was lucky to only receive a yellow card when he made contact in the air with Irish counterpart Tiernan O'Halloran in the 11th minute of the Test.
There have been a number of similar recent incidents that were punished with red cards.
Ironically Le Roux was on the receiving end earlier this year when Highlanders centre Jason Emery made contact with him in the air during a Super Rugby match against the Sharks in Dunedin. Emery was red-carded for the incident and banned for four weeks.
There was also the incident where Stormers fullback Leolin Zas was red-carded against the Waratahs at Newlands. Zas’ scenario was slightly different because he slipped into his opponent, but the end result was the same.
According to the current rules, when both players are contesting a high ball, the onus is on the approaching runner to make sure his doesn’t make contact in the air in a dangerous manner.
Le Roux didn’t win the ball and the contact he made in the air put his opponent in danger.
Personally I feel it’s a silly rule as incidents like these are bound to happen in a contact sport.
But if referees were consistent, then Le Roux would have seen red. He was afterwards promptly cited and banned for one game.
2. Who chose the man-of-the-match!?
With all due respect to JP Pietersen, but Saturday’s official man-the-match award should have gone to scrumhalf Faf de Klerk.
Pietersen’s performance was more workmanlike than in recent weeks, but a man-of-the-match award can’t go to a player just because he scored a try.
Apart from a kick-error and one overzealous quick tap, De Klerk was outstanding. Not only is his service speedy and sharp, but his defence was equally impressive.
He saved two potential try-scoring opportunities - once when he leapt higher than six feet in the air to intercept an Irish pass on the Bok tryline and right at the death with a daring spot tackle when the Irish had a man over in the corner.
3. Impressive Bok scrum
I reported earlier in the series about the Bok scrum being under pressure, but they turned the tables in impressive fashion on Saturday.
The Boks won a couple of scrum penalties and it was pleasing to see the reserve front rankers also perform adequately.
In a tight contest like Saturday’s, the team with the dominant scrum more than likely prevails...
4. Vital ace up Bok sleeve
Wing Ruan Combrinck was one of the finds of the series and while he was more subdued than during his debut match in Johannesburg the previous week, he showed he has another vital ace up his sleeve when he kicked a penalty from almost 60m out.
Not since the days of Frans Steyn have the Boks had a player capable of kicking such long-range penalties and, as it showed on Saturday, it proves vital in close encounters.
5. Lots to work on for Boks
Despite the come-from-behind series win, the Springboks are not ready for the Rugby Championship.
A duel against the All Blacks would be rather one-sided if the teams were to meet this weekend and Allister Coetzee has lots to still ponder for the year ahead.
One needs to take into consideration that the Boks scraped past an Irish side missing up to six of their frontline players, and they were at the end of a long, gruelling season.
There was marked improvement on defence this past weekend and it was welcome to see, but tactical kicking, discipline and patience on attack are all areas that need to be improved.
The lack of a proper fetcher could also prove problematic later in the season...