Boks take positives to Bloem

2010-08-30 10:45

Gavin Rich - SuperSport

Johannesburg - For a team that had just won its first game in five starts in the Tri-Nations, the Springboks were in a subdued mood after their come from behind 44-31 win over Australia in Pretoria at the weekend.

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Indeed, you could probably say there was more honesty this time than there was after last week’s agonising defeat to the All Blacks at the FNB Stadium, where the coach and some players made statements that might have been construed as them thinking they had actually won the game rather than lost it.

Skipper John Smit said after the scrappy and low quality Loftus clash that it was not a performance that would win his men the World Cup, and he was right. He is also on the money when he says his men are not going to learn if they are on the right track when the defences are as weak as they were in this game.

They may have won, but it wasn’t a great performance from the Boks, and their mood may have reflected what many of the people present felt – namely that the team that lost might actually have been the better side on the day.

Certainly the Wallabies came a lot closer to breaking their 47 year drought on the Highveld than they have in recent memory. When they were up 14-0 after five minutes it looked dark for the Boks and also when they made it 21-7 a few minutes later.

The Wallabies should have been out of sight at half-time and the Boks should have felt thankful that the visitors were as poor on defence as they were. It was as if both teams caught some dreaded disease that prevented them from tackling as they walked out the Loftus tunnel before the game.

It was a team that didn’t know how to defend but was bloody-minded and determined to win against a side that didn’t know how to defend but also had no clue how to win. In the end, as it often does, bloodymindedness won the day. It was no more than that, and there was no significant step forward for either team in the buildup to next year’s World Cup.

That said, it wasn’t as if there were no positives for the Boks, and though it has become a time-worn old cliché, centre Jean de Villiers was right when afterwards he stated that the Bok comeback was a triumph for character.

You could say that the return of passion and pride in the jersey, ingredients that were alarmingly not in evidence overseas, was always going to happen once back in South Africa. After all, last week they played in front of a crowd of more than 90 000, and in both games there was the emotion which comes with celebrating the 100th game of a favourite and popular player.

But the Bok refusal to lose at Loftus on a day where the open spaces in the stands reflected the mood of the public towards their alarming fall from grace over the last 12 months did at least show that they are together as a team. And let’s not forget either that in the last three quarters of the match the Boks scored 37 points against just 10.

With the amount of attacking the Wallabies did in the second half, the Boks did well to prevent them from scoring – an indication that they settled their defence. Much of it was admittedly of the scrambling variety, and the Australians let themselves down with wrong option taking and rank poor decisions, but at least there was an improvement on the opening minutes.

Then there were the individual players who came through. None more so after an indifferent start than the man who was celebrating his landmark game, Victor Matfield, the organiser of a lineout that was back to its destructive best on opposition ball, and not least in the crucial last quarter of the game where Matfield himself soared high into the Pretoria sky to poach an Aussie throw-in just metres from the Bok line.

Francois Hougaard started with a poor kick and then repeated it a little later, but his man of the match award was about more than just the excellent tackle that dislodged the ball from Adam Ashley-Cooper’s grasp as the Australians were about to cross the line. The Boks would almost certainly have lost had that try been scored.

Morne Steyn is a lot steadier outside Hougaard than he was outside Ricky Januarie, and in this game he appeared to play closer to the gainline than he had previously, so making him, and the men around him, more dangerous with ball in hand. Given the way he kicked and played, it was a risky decision to replace him with Butch James 20 minutes from the end, though James did no wrong when he was on the field.

Jean de Villiers grew further in his second game back in his preferred position of inside centre, and his partnership with Jaque Fourie raised questions over why that selection was not made in the away leg.

Bryan Habana is clearly in the midst of a confidence crisis and Frans Steyn was rusty after his long lay-off – he would have been better had he been with the Boks overseas – but JP Pietersen, like Juan Smith, showed again what the Boks missed in his absence.


  • THE MAN - 2010-08-30 11:01

    captain john smit was no where to be seen on saturday for once we could all see even his most partriotic fans how uselss he is...when chilliboy came on the game changed totally for the better.... chilliboy is the new captain and hooker of this team he is now the man....chilliboy must replace smit now....other than that the defence was shocking in this match it was like watching school boy rugby, both australlia and the spring bucks would have got a hiding had they played against the mighty all blacks on that day

  • bloubulblog - 2010-08-30 11:06

    definitely not great, but a win is a win. we did play better and kept our cool quite nicely after that hectic first half hour. wallabies was quite lucky with a couple of their tries, so they could easily have lost further. boks could have scored at least two more tries. we should look to thump the aussies this weekend.

  • PDV/Quota-Hater - 2010-08-30 11:09

    ...Go Aussies..!! ...Go Wallabies..!! ....Go Aussies..!! ...Go Wallabies..!!

  • Hendrik - 2010-08-30 11:19

    Juan Smith deserves MUCH more credit, I think he made 60% of all the tackles in the game!

  • ETTIENE - 2010-08-30 11:22

    You win the World CuP with 1 point & not how well you play BOKKE 4 EVA!!!

  • Ronald - 2010-08-30 11:34

    Habanna, Pietersen en Smit not international standard and must out !!!

  • edwin - 2010-08-30 11:34

    I've said it previously and I will say it again. Habana is a has been. Two mistakes-two tries. Maybe he was a world class player 5 years ago but I think it is time for him to hang up his boots.

  • Me - 2010-08-30 11:54

    Even when we play really bad, with a kak coach, kak wings, kak hooker. We still beat the Aussies. PDV/quota-hater, sorry dude.

  • what? - 2010-08-30 11:55

    what game did you watch gavin rich?? Jean De Villiers and JP Pieterson definitly did not playwell at all, JDV played better than last week but his defence is not as solid as Wynand Olivier's, JP Pieterson's try was overshadowed with his poor defence that looked more like touch rugby. Juan Smith was great again so also Vic, Morne, hougaard and Guthrow

  • RUGBY KING - 2010-08-30 11:58

    drop habana for aplon on the one wing and jp peterson on the other wing for de jong..... and well drop smit offcourse even chilliboy looks better than him now days

  • Willy - 2010-08-30 11:59

    The Man, the fool, chilliboy captain, well you obviously now very little about rugby, it will be the same as zuma, clueless, but that is what this country does, selects fools for leaders, why not ask malema, atleast he can shout people down, but a fool no less.Check your spelling first before commenting on something you haven't a clue of, fool.

  • Gaz - 2010-08-30 12:02

    John is def a Good Captain and leader but he is not a good player anymore...he used to be! The cameras hide a lot when you watch at home, but when you at the game you can see how tired and overweight he is. He nearly got hit by the ball when Quade 'Idiot' Cooper was waitng for a pass from a maul cause John was still panting back to where he should have been - in the maul....Love the guy but ChilliBoy's impact was very noticable. Aussies to me were the better side on the day..

  • JGF - 2010-08-30 12:03

    To the backstabbing, two-faced Springbok supporters (aka PDV/Quota-Hater and the likes), back your backs and go make your living somewhere else or be a true patriot and stand by our team through bad and good times. Well done Bokke, a win is a win and we will take it, at the end of the day it does not matter what they say, the scoreboard and history books reflects this as win. Make us proud!

  • wiledog - 2010-08-30 12:23

    i beg to differ.. JP Pietersen is a liability = missed one tackle which led to a try. he looks like he's playing touch-rugby... also just standing around like a spectator, he's afraid to commit to the tackle or put his body on the line on defense... drop him for Aplon, who's not afraid to tackle even the biggest guys!

  • @ THE MAN - 2010-08-30 12:38

    China, you know little to nothing about the game. John Smit has played 100 tests for the boks, show some respect. Chilliboy is good, but at this stage unproven under pressure. Smit has been there and got many tee shirts. Rather watch and learn than bleat like a fool

  • gbGBES - 2010-08-30 13:04

    The SPRINGBOKS made my weekend. I am so happy with this win. Maybe we should tighten up our defences,and play for territory in the first 20 minutes.

  • Vaalseun - 2010-08-30 13:22

    A captain of any game is not only chosen because of his ability to play the game, but also because of the respect the players--and the management--have for his abilities as well as his leadership qualilties. Smit is passed his best and as a player and various players deserve to be chosen ahead of him. I don't think, however, that any of those players will make a better captain of the Bok team at this stage. When Smit is replaced, Matfield will be the natural leader of the Boks. I also think that too many people commenting on this Blog have opinions about the Boks and various players, who have not taken enough time to study the game. This would be the logical reason why so many comments are based on ignorance.

  • Mike@CapeT - 2010-08-30 13:33

    @What? (11.55).....what game were YOU watching? Although not perfect, that was certainly the best centre pairing performance by the Boks this Tri Nations, after a rather hesitant start....but Juan de Jongh must stay in the mix and must get some more game time. As for Meisiekind, hopefully he is history - been tried, tested and found wanting! I do agree though about Pietersen. He had some good moments but basically, not up to scratch!

  • @ The Man - 2010-08-30 13:34

    What is it with this fascination of Chilliboy"i'm a qouta player"Rallepele???He is no competition to Bismarck/Struass/Liebenberg/Burden etc.The day they make him Captain i'll support the French or the Poms or the Russians.It's a travisty to watch brilliant players overlooked because of their skin colour.If these SARU arseholes want a black side,then chose one and be done with it!!! We'll support our own players financially and run a cavallier squad of springbok players chosen on merit!!! F@#K the ANC and SARU!!!

  • colin - 2010-08-30 13:42

    Even when we were 21;7 down we looked the better side.Aussies got lucky or BH gifted them 2 soft tries.take yout pick.Jaun smith was awsome, amazing what a little rest will do???

  • Deon - 2010-08-30 13:54

    It is clear that john smit must do the right thing now and step out of international rugby. He was, and still is a good captain, but his play is not on par. Then habana and petersen must be changed with aplon and de jongh, and only if peter de villiers move with these three, and make space for hynecke meyer, will the boks be a team to be reckoned with.

  • lvkng - 2010-08-30 14:17

    All you big mouths why dont you go and play the game maybe you lot can do better and become the next springboks IDIOTS

  • HJS - 2010-08-30 14:22

    What a relief, at last a win. Certainly not a good game. Defence too poor from both sides. Habana's run of "bad luck" has been going for a very long time now. Maybe he should "rest a bit". J.P. did manage to score a try, after other players did the hard work. For the rest of the game he was jogging around the park as if he did not really want to be there. Time to go. Steyn at fullback seemed rather "rusty" for this level of the game but needs to be utilised. Hougaard another great peformance. Still don't know what "fatty" is doing on the bench? Put him out to pasture. The two centres had a good game, why no yellow card or "sighting" for the Aussie that dumped Fourie like that on the try line? Juan Smit worked like a trojan all game, very valuable in the side. Chilliboy a good energetic young hooker but I agree with many of the comments about the value of John as a leader, needed till the team is going strong. Most worrying aspect was the apparent lack of fitness from the majority of the Bok side. After 15 minutes they were huffing & puffing like crazy. The last 20 minutes they appeared to be the ide affected by playing at altitude much more than their opponents, to whom it is suppose to be a draw back? Someone somewhere must bring in the required skills to improve on the poor fitnes level of most of the Bok players. Thank goodness this one behind us and let's hope next week in Bloem even better.

  • hasie - 2010-08-30 14:32

    @the man, you think a hell of a lot of yourself and know nothing about rugby, i follow your comments and i think you are just on this site to make trouble, so please stay away and keep your commin statements for yourself and go watch soccer!!!!!!!!!

  • Sharkie :-) - 2010-08-30 14:48

    So typical... The Boks record a great win over the Ausies and still the fans complain! You guys are just like a bunch of spoiled brats!

  • @PDV/Quota-Hater - 2010-08-30 15:09

    Which players are currently a Quota?? Chilliboy? That debatibale...whoever i can name a few quota players before PDV took over, Henno Mentz, Stefan Terblanche

  • Fatty - 2010-08-30 15:15

    I like the way John now refers to the winning team as "his men". They should rather refer to him as "their burden". JS is destroying a great career weekend after weekend.

  • IZ IT - 2010-08-30 15:23


  • deon - 2010-08-30 16:15

    The Boks are peaking too soon.

  • Steve - 2010-08-30 18:36

    The Boks won not because they were the better team, but because the Aussies were pathetic in defence. They have learnt from the All Blacks how to attack the Boks, but not how to defend. At this rate, the All Blacks can play the Aussies in the morning and the Boks on the afternoon on any Saturday and comfortably beat both.

  • Adam - 2010-08-30 18:41

    I hate the way "THE MAN" always tries to bring racism into everything. What a huge chip on his shoulder he must have, to see everything with such bitterness and hatred all the time. I think he feels insecure and small and hides it behind arrogance. Good comments from IZ IT. Would love to see de Jongh or Aplon at wing. JUAN SMITH = LEGEND!!!!!!

  • peter - 2010-08-31 10:41

    @Willy I'm sure you would "know" who the real fool is when you look back at your own spelling you moronic imbecile.. lol

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