Cape Town - Sport24 highlights 5 talking points after the Springboks’ 46-10 victory over the World XV at Newlands at the weekend.
1. Handre Pollard’s kicking
Springbok flyhalf Handre Pollard struggled with his goal-kicking at Newlands, slotting only three of seven attempts at goal. It should be worrisome, especially given the fact that the game was played in similar conditions to what the Boks can expect at the Rugby World Cup in England later this year.
As was the case in Super Rugby, Pollard’s tactical kicking also remains a work in progress and he’ll have to sharpen that aspect of his game in the coming weeks.
2. Jean de Villiers’s miraculous recovery
Midfielder Jean de Villiers completed a miraculous recovery from a knee reconstruction when he played the last 20 minutes of the game at Newlands.
Many experts had doubted whether De Villiers would ever play rugby again and for him to have recovered in a mere eight months is remarkable.
He caught the eye with some enterprising play when his run set up a try for fullback Willie le Roux. He acknowledged though that his starting spot in the team is not a given and he’ll have to prove that he’s good and fit enough to go to the Rugby World Cup.
3. Bok discipline
The Springboks will have to up their discipline after flank Francois Louw and fullback Willie le Roux received yellow cards. Prop Jannie du Plessis was also lucky not to have received his marching orders after barging into a helpless Bakkies Botha at a ruck.
The Boks were also at times heavily punished by Irish referee John Lacey and their discipline will be put to the test in this World Cup year.
Nick Mallett was right when he noted in the SuperSport studio afterwards: “If John Lacey is an example of how northern hemisphere referees are going to referee at the World Cup then the Boks are really going to have to brush up on their discipline, because they gave away more penalties (than the World XV) and received two yellow cards.”
4. Impressive Bok centres
The performance of Springbok inside centre Damian de Allende deserves mention. The Stormers enforcer scored a brace of tries, made more running metres (152) than any other player and carried the ball 13 times. He must be in the inside lane to wear the Bok No 12 jersey in the upcoming Rugby Championship.
Jesse Kriel also performed adequately at outside centre in his first match for the Springboks. During his 60 minutes on the field, Kriel carried the ball on seven occasions, beat two defenders and completed 10 tackles.
5. Marcell Coetzee was the standout Bok forward
The Sharks loosie’s performance would have eased some loose forward headaches for coach Heyneke Meyer.
There has been increased focus on the Bok loose trio ever since news surfaced of the potential unavailability of Duane Vermeulen and Willem Alberts at the World Cup.
Coetzee has spent most of his Bok career in the No 6 jersey, but on Saturday he found himself on the other side of the scrum and performed the role with aplomb.
He was all over the pitch, putting in numerous big hits while his work-rate meant that he could be a nuisance at the breakdown as well.