Lions in SA

In hindsight, Boks had no hope

2009-07-05 22:47
Heinrich Brussow (File)
Louis de Villiers

Johannesburg – If one is honest, very few players would’ve been able to remain mentally sharp the week after they'd achieved a crucial 2-0 series-winning lead in a Test series against the British and Irish Lions.

Nothing illustrates this better than the humiliating 28-9 defeat the Springboks suffered on Saturday – and which one could have predicted early in the week already.

It was a week in which the players had to concentrate on Saturday's match and play the game on merit. But instead the days preceding the match were a circus.

If you talk to Peter de Villiers one-on-one, he is interesting and coherent, but it is beginning to appear as if there is some kind of short circuit when the Bok coach is confronted by a horde of journalists.

Last week, he had the media spotlight thrust upon him with a series of his own proverbs about congratulations and fingers in the eyes of game park lions, which understandably got the British media excited.

In addition to that, the team selection was nonsensical: if you want to test a different centre pair, what is the point of choosing a totally different back three, No 8 and hooker!

One of De Villiers’s better traits is his almost overly conservative way of picking a team, but on this occasion his 10 changes only served to remind us of the bad old days when the Bok team was chopped and changed every other week.

This is one of the best generations of SA players. It would be crazy to think there will be in the foreseeable future this much talent available again.

Not the duds we saw on Saturday. In the end, it was the kind of poor team effort that one rarely sees, but because it was a completely strange team, it is almost impossible to find things that worked. Everything was half-cooked, raw.

The end result was that, despite the team’s brave fightback in Pretoria's second Test, the series had lost momentum for South Africa the moment De Villiers made a number of unnecessary substitutions in the second half of the first Test in Durban.

Since then, the Lions only improved and on Saturday one couldn’t really fault them on their performance. Apart from Heinrich Brüssow and Ryan Kankowski, the Bok forwards didn’t get going.

The white armbands of protest over Bakkies Botha’s suspension reminded on the one hand that they missed their team-mate, but on the other hand also gave the team an unwanted distraction.

In addition to the above, forwards playing on the back foot... a confused defensive pattern of a new combination at the back... a Lions backline that went unpunished while playing offside and finally, an injury to Fourie du Preez all contributed to the Boks' defeat.

The Springboks have little time to find their feet. In a little under three weeks they play the All Blacks in the Tri-Nations.


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