Cape Town - Sport24’s Herman Mostert highlights FIVE talking points following the Springboks’ 25-24 defeat to the All Blacks at Newlands:
1. Bok standout!
All Blacks fullback Damian McKenzie, who scored a brilliant solo try, received the official man-of-the-match award, but for me the standout player was Springbok hooker Malcolm Marx.
Simply put, the Bok hooker was a ‘colossus’ on defence and with ball in hand.
Marx also won several penalties at the breakdown which got the Boks out of trouble on countless occasions.
His lineout throwing was also much more accurate, with the Boks winning 13 of 14 on their own throw.
He was duly rewarded with a late try off a driving maul which gave the hosts a sniff in the dying moments.
If ever there was a man-of-the-match accolade to go to a player from the losing team, then this was it.
2. Bok halfback inconsistencies
There were a few inspiring moments, but the harsh reality for the Springboks was that they lost this game due to crucial errors from their halfbacks.
Flyhalf Elton Jantjies missed a vital penalty kick from in front, while the All Blacks’ first try by centre Ryan Crotty came after Jantjies’ kick was charged down by his opposite number, Beauden Barrett.
All Black wing Rieko Ioane’s intercept try midway through the second half was a killer blow to the home side’s hopes and came after Bok scrumhalf Ross Cronje had thrown a wayward pass.
Cronje’s up-and-unders were also a bit "telegraphed" and there was one instance in the first half where he broke brilliantly, only to end up conceding possession to McKenzie.
In that instance, Cronje only needed to look to his left where Jantjies was waiting with an open goal-line lying in wait.
3. Debatable Crotty try
Ryan Crotty’s first half try was debatable to say the least.
English TMO Rowan Kitt explained that Crotty had knocked the ball backwards before grounding it with his waist.
The Kiwi midfielder however never looked in control and I’ve seen plenty of similar scenarios where a try was disallowed.
Interestingly, during the half-time break SuperSport pundit Nick Mallett said he had phoned SA Rugby’s head of referees, Mark Lawrence, who said the try should not have stood.
According to Lawrence, once you touch the ball and the ball is in the air, you’re deemed to have possession.
In this scenario, Crotty does lose possession and the ball then goes to ground before his stomach hits the ball. Lawrence told Mallett that he felt the ball was lost forward and that “it should have been a scrum and not a try”.
Looking at the replay, I struggle to conclude that Crotty lost the ball forward, but he also in no way had control of it...
4. De Allende sees red
Springbok replacement centre Damian de Allende’s late charge on Lima Sopoaga, after the latter had attempted an unsuccessful drop goal, was reckless and silly.
It was a deserved penalty to the All Blacks which effectively killed off any hopes the Springboks harboured of sneaking a late win.
However, a red card punishment for De Allende was harsh to say the least.
Yes, it was a late hit and a stupid thing to do given the game situation, but it was not overly reckless and in my opinion did not warrant a red card.
Luckily for De Allende the citing officer agreed and only gave the player a warning on Sunday.
This is a contact sport after all and luckily sanity prevailed from the citing officials.
5. Improved Bok set pieces
The Springboks’ set pieces showed improvement from the 57-0 drubbing in Albany last month.
As mentioned, the Boks won 13 of 14 of their own lineouts.
The one lost lineout unfortunately proved costly as it led to McKenzie’s vital 68th minute try.
There were still issues with Ruan Dreyer at tighthead however, with the Lions front-ranker again proving a penalty liability at scrum time.
Dreyer is finding the going tough at Test level and the Bok scrum appeared more solid when debutant Wilco Louw replaced him in the 50th minute.
Loosehead Steven Kitshoff also proved that his maiden start in his 19th Test was long overdue.