in the UK everyone has been positive about the Springboks’ performance against
England. The prevailing sentiment was that they were always in control and
there was never a question of them not winning the Test match.
my view, Heyneke Meyer’s men showed experience and composure in taking their
opportunities when on offer.
Boks enjoyed the lion’s share of territory and possession against Ireland and
against England the stats were reversed.
it comes down to what you do in the opposition territory and the quality of
possession that you have and manner in which you utilise it.
last week’s column, I called for Pat Lambie to take the lead and I certainly
think he has taken a very positive step in the right direction. The flyhalf’s
performance against England was very promising and it proves that he’s a
composed individual with a fine temperament.
halfback partner Cobus Reinach – on his run-on debut for South Africa – also
enhanced his credentials against Stuart Lancaster’s charges. He showed a cool
head and passed a big test with flying colours. While the 24-year-old boasts
all the physical attributes, what most excites me is that he has the ability to
develop his game management, which will be critical going forward. He possesses
all the natural skills to grow into a world-class scrumhalf.
the Springboks were in the driving seat for most of the match, they suffered
when Victor Matfield was sent off the field and, in his absence, found it
naturally difficult to defend the maul. With a man down in the forwards, two
tries were conceded from the driving maul.
a tactical perspective it was interesting to note that when England drove the
maul for the two tries, they sent in both Owen Farrell and Brad Barritt. Said
tactic is becoming more and more prevalent within the northern hemisphere.
terms of the basics, the chief concern of the side that is attacking at the
maul is getting properly set. If they are properly set and patient, their
chances of scoring are very good.
the side defending the maul has to kill it off at source – either by sacking
the player that has won the ball in the lineout or alternatively smashing it
right at the beginning. If you don’t do that and allow it to set, you are in
for a world of pain.
different refereeing interpretations of the maul exist. For instance, when
Ireland stood off, some referees ignore that and let you make the connection
and others don’t.
I believe the maul remains an integral part of the game and must remain so.
Springboks face Italy in Padova on Saturday and, to be brutally honest, the
hosts are a poor side. Since the powers that be saw it in their wisdom to
relieve Nick Mallett of his duties post Rugby World Cup 2011, the Azzurri have gone
think Nick did a magnificent job with Italy. He built them up, made them really
competitive, and the side played some fantastic rugby and memorably beat France
under his mentorship.
built the base correctly by first making sure that they were well-conditioned
and defensively solid. When he was replaced, he was just in the process of
evolving their attack.
Jacques Brunel took the helm and immediately placed an emphasis on attack.
Brunel has tried to push ahead offensively and, as a result, I believe Italy
have lost their way and the balance between attack and defence.
Italy face off against South Africa you would usually expect them to play
damage limitation rugby, but under Brunel they may come out and decide to give
the ball air. But if they do just that and the weather is favourable, those
tactics will play into the Boks’ hands.
this game serves an opportunity to rest some players, I’m pleased that Heyneke
has retained the 9-10-12-13 axis, because the Boks need to build continuity.
the Springboks’ set-piece is solid and they generate quick front-foot ball,
then they can do a lot of damage against a vulnerable Italian side.
Test match represents a great opportunity for the Boks to further grow their
Alan Solomons was assistant coach to Nick Mallett when the Springboks
went 17 Tests unbeaten. Having served as Kings’ director of rugby, he is now
head coach of Edinburgh.
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