Cape Town - Sport24’s Herman Mostert highlights FIVE talking points following the Springboks’ 18-10 Rugby Championship win over the Wallabies in Pretoria.
1. Leading by example
Bok captain Adriaan Strauss copped heavy criticism for his performances early in the Test season, so much so that it led to him announcing that he will retire from international rugby at the end of the season.
I noted after the All Black Test in Christchurch a fortnight ago that he was improving and he continued in that vein at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday, duly bagging the man-of-the-match accolade.
Strauss proved a menace for the Wallabies at ruck time, had some inspiring surges as ball-carrier, while the Bok lineouts and scrums functioned with aplomb.
2. Steyn proves his worth
Coach Allister Coetzee knew his team had to eke out a win at all costs and for that reason he opted for the consistency of Morne Steyn at flyhalf.
Steyn did not disappoint, kicking all his team’s points via four penalties and two drop goals.
The Boks may not have enjoyed the amount of territorial dominance (only 40%) they had hoped for, but Steyn did what was required of him.
His tactical kicking was sound, while it was welcome to note some variation at times.
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3. A flank out on the wing!
Coetzee’s decision to pick a 6/2 forwards/backs split on the bench backfired ... sort of.
When scrumhalf Rudy Paige left the field concussed in the 57th minute, he had to be replaced by loose forward Willem Alberts.
Francois Hougaard moved from wing to scrumhalf, but because Lionel Mapoe (for Jesse Kriel) and Willie le Roux (for Bryan Habana) were already on for injured players, the Boks were left with nine forwards and only six backs on the field.
This saw flank Jaco Kriel move out to the wing!
Luckily the Boks got away with it against a pretty inept Wallaby attack.
4. Boks mainly on the back foot
The Boks eked out a win, but the manner in which they did it was not eye-catching at all.
The hosts were on the back foot for most parts and had they faced superior opposition, the outcome could well have been different.
The Wallabies enjoyed 55% possession and 60% territory, they made 480m on attack compared to South Africa’s 332m, made 112 carries compared to 92 and made 10 clean breaks against 7 from the hosts.
The Wallabies also completed more passes (138-130) and won more rucks (80-58).
While Springbok defence did improve, they still missed 21 tackles, compared to 11.
The hosts won the game because their set pieces were sound, they won 10 turnovers (compared to 6), while Steyn did the business with his boot.
But as Nick Mallett noted afterwards, they never looked like scoring a try.
5. Boks on a wing and a prayer in Durban
While the win was applauded, it was noticeable to see several ex-players, who now work for SuperSport, mention after the game that the Boks are way behind the level of the All Blacks.
Mallett, Jean de Villiers and Breyton Paulse all said on air that a repeat performance would see a defeat against the Kiwis in Durban this Saturday.