Cape Town - Sport24’s Herman Mostert highlights FIVE talking points following the Springboks’ 37-21 defeat to England at Twickenham.
1. Loose forward woes
As many predicted, picking Pieter-Steph du Toit out of position backfired badly for the Springboks on Saturday.
His combination with Willem Alberts and Warren Whiteley did not work and it saw the Boks get slow ball, which put scrumhalf Rudy Paige under immense pressure.
Nick Mallett was right when he said after the game that the Boks “has no real loose forwards understanding the role of loose forward play”.
Du Toit was also unsure how to position himself on defence, which saw England scrumhalf Ben Youngs twice beat him by breaking through at a ruck. On both occasions, it led to England tries.
Yes, there were some serious injury blows at loose forward, but it would be a lie to say there isn't anyone able to board a plane in South Africa...
2. Is this Bok team properly coached?
Leading into Saturday’s Test, former Springbok and 1995 World Cup winner Hennie le Roux said he felt the current players do not respect the coaching staff.
I’m starting to believe that Le Roux has a point.
The players seem uncertain of what their roles on the field are and what game plan to follow, while the team's defensive structures are in tatters.
For a team boasting strong set-piece ball, fingers need to be pointed at the coaching staff as to why everything else leaves much to be desired.
Pundits were in agreement that the team has no defensive structure and the ease with which England scored tries was alarming from a South African perspective.
Naas Botha perhaps summed it up best in the SuperSport studio afterwards:
“We have to ask ourselves the question why did we allow ourselves to get into this situation. A year ago we had a defensive structure, suddenly 10 internationals later we’ve got no plan... why are we in this situation? We’ve got a coaching staff, it doesn’t matter who they are, they should know all these things...”
3. England well below par
In my view this was England’s worst performance in Eddie Jones’ 10 Tests in charge. And that makes it look even worse from a South African perspective.
The hosts conceded a whole host of penalties, they were dominated in the scrums and leaked a few tackles that Jones would no doubt not be proud of.
Three of England’s four tries can directly be attributed to defensive errors from the Springboks, while the other was largely due to JP Pietersen dropping a high ball inside his own half, which allowed England to counter up-field.
If England faced the All Blacks on Saturday they would have lost 37-21.
4. Etzebeth manhandled
The Springboks lost lock enforcer Eben Etzebeth on the half-hour mark after he felt the full force of big England No 8 Billy Vunipola.
Etzebeth had attempted to tackle the 126kg man mountain but was knocked backwards at quite a rate, forcing the Bok lock off the field permanently.
It reminded me of an incident in Super Rugby four years ago when Etzebeth, playing for the Stormers, collided with would-be tackler Bismarck du Plessis from the Sharks.
On that occasion, Du Plessis was sent backwards at a rate of knots...
5. Rare shining lights
As mentioned, the Boks dominated England at scrum time and they were sound on their own lineout ball. Their unwillingness to contest on England's lineout ball was puzzling to say the least, but let's keep things positive under this headline...
Johan Goosen, who replaced Pat Lambie at flyhalf in the 54th minute, provided some much needed impetus on attack. He also scored a try when he rounded off a Springbok attack which started inside the England half.
While doing live updates on the game, I called it "South Africa's best try of the year!".
Clutching at straws for positives...