Cape Town - Sport24’s Herman Mostert highlights FIVE talking points following the Springboks’ 27-all draw with the Wallabies in Bloemfontein:
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1. Yes, Folau grabbed Leyds by the hair!
Arguably the Test's biggest talking point came in the 35th minute when Wallabies fullback Israel Folau got hold of Springbok wing Dillyn Leyds.
Folau grabbed the Bok flyer by the collar before grabbing hold of his hair.
Bok captain Eben Etzebeth retaliated by having a go at Folau which resulted in a mini-brawl.
Australia coach Michael Cheika post-match said Folau had got hold of Leyds only by the collar.
Cheika was right by saying Folau grabbed Leyds by the collar BUT replays showed Folau then grabbed Leyds’ hair.
New Zealand referee Ben O’Keeffe awarded a penalty against Folau and the player was perhaps lucky not to cop a yellow card.
However, the reckless manner in which Etzebeth charged at Folau was not what you’d like to see from a team leader and his retaliation probably played a part in the officials not taking any further action against Folau.
2. Two pivotal moments
Two incidents involving the Springbok halfbacks had a significant impact on the final outcome of the game.
One was good for the hosts, the other not so.
With Australia leading 27-24 in the 65th minute, big Tevita Kuridrani was as good as over in the corner, only for a miraculous tackle by Bok scrumhalf Ross Cronje to stop the midfielder in his tracks.
A Wallabies try at that stage could have seen them go 10 points clear which and in all likelihood would have sealed victory.
The other incident came right at the death when Bok flyhalf Elton Jantjies had a chance to win the game for his side, but his penalty attempt from close to the touchline went well right.
Jantjies had not missed a kick all match, but unfortunately missed when it mattered most.
3. Scrum issues remain for Boks
The Springboks are struggling to assert their dominance in the set-pieces - areas of traditional strength they have to get right if they are to mount any challenge against the All Blacks at Newlands this weekend.
Tighthead Ruan Dreyer struggled at scrum time and the couple of penalties he received halted vital momentum for the Springboks.
Dreyer is often guilty of over-extending and don’t be too surprised if he is replaced by Wilco Louw this Saturday.
Loosehead Tendai Mtawarira, on the other hand, deserves praise for his performances in recent times.
The Springbok lineout saw an improvement from the previous game (they lost two lineouts in Bloemfontein) against New Zealand, but getting things spot on at Newlands in these departments will be non-negotiable.
4. Leyds not only a hair full
Aside from the incident involving his hair, Dillyn Leyds made the most of his opportunity after replacing Raymond Rhule in the Bok starting team.
Leyds was always going to be an improvement on the hapless Rhule, and proved himself to be a handful.
He was a key link in several Bok attacking forays, including playing a role in the lead-up to one try.
He also showed his prowess on defence, with one thumping hit on burly wing Marika Koroibete a standout.
After releasing Rhule for PRO14 action, Bok coach Allister Coetzee said last weekend that the Cheetahs flyer would be drafted back into the squad, but only a mad man would select Rhule again to front the All Blacks.
5. Boks show enterprise, but...
A quick glance through the official statistics from Saturday’s match suggests the Springboks did most of the playing.
The Boks bossed the metres made (619m-438m), carries (141-95), defenders beaten (27-20), clean breaks (23-12), passes completed (198-116), offloads (22-15) and rucks won (83-58) categories.
It is therefore clear that the Springboks were more enterprising than the Wallabies, but unfortunately their finishing let them down.
This game strategy will be even tougher to execute against the All Blacks, who will more ruthlessly expose Bok mistakes.
If the Boks want to be competitive at Newlands this Saturday, they need to employ a tighter game plan and make sure their set pieces vastly improve from the previous time they faced New Zealand.