Cape Town - Sport24’s Herman Mostert highlights FIVE talking points following the Springboks’ 34-21 Rugby Championship win over Argentina in Durban:
1. Rassie’s comeback Boks
The Springboks under Rassie Erasmus are developing a habit of starting slow in games.
In the first Test against England in June, the Boks overturned a 24-3 deficit to win 42-39 in Johannesburg, while a week later in Bloemfontein they came back from 12-0 down to win 23-12 and clinch the series.
On Saturday at Kings Park, Los Pumas were 14-5 ahead after half an hour’s play, before another Springbok comeback effort.
The Boks will be pleased with the character shown by hitting back in these matches, but they should know that deficits like these would not suffice against the trend-setting All Blacks...
2. Bok finishing, decision making require work
The Springboks dominated possession and territory against Argentina but lacked the desired accuracy in execution to turn several attacking forays into points.
The hosts’ decision-making on attack also lacked at times and questions should be asked why some of the backline players put boot to ball while attacking inside the Argentine 22m area.
Against the All Blacks, you may only get two opportunities in the whole game to score and kicking the ball away is too risky an option when you’re on the attack in the red zone.
3. Bok wingers steal the show!
Wingers Aphiwe Dyantyi and Makazole Mapimpi lit up Kings Park with dazzling attacking displays that saw both bag a brace of tries.
The speedy Mapimpi is proving a tough man to bring down and looks a composed finisher. He certainly grabbed his opportunity after standing in for the injured S’bu Nkosi.
Dyantyi, on the left wing, looked dangerous every time he touched the ball. The skilful Lions flyer is turning into one of the finds of the season and deserved his man-of-the-match accolade.
4. Etzebeth back with a bang!
Up front, I felt Eben Etzebeth produced a monstrous performance and certainly did not look like player who last played rugby in December.
There were concerns earlier in the year when Etzebeth was making a slow return to fitness - he apparently struggled to gain mass in his left bicep following shoulder surgery - and to put in an 80-minute performance upon his return was remarkable.
Statistics derived post-game indicate that Etzebeth made 14 carries and completed 55m with ball in hand. He will be vital to the Boks’ cause for the remainder of the Rugby Championship.
5. Pollard’s goal-kicking needs work
It’s fair to say that Bok flyhalf Handre Pollard’s goal-kicking was well below par on Saturday.
In total, Pollard missed five kicks at goal. It put the Boks under pressure and in the end allowed Argentina to stay close on the scoreboard, even though they were thoroughly outplayed.
It’s important that Pollard has his kicking boots on against Australia and New Zealand.
It’s however also important to note that Pollard otherwise did not have a bad game. His game management was sound and he got the Boks on the front-foot.
I noted several Elton Jantjies fans point out Pollard’s kicking woes on social media, and while the criticism of his goal-kicking is justified, there is no need to suddenly drop him from the starting XV.
Jantjies had his chances - several of them - at the highest level and unfortunately didn’t take them.