Rugby Championship

Boks: It wasn't pretty ... but we'll take it!

2016-10-03 07:00
Morne Steyn (Gallo)

Cape Town - I watched Saturday's Rugby Championship clash between the Boks and the Wallabies with a couple of die-hard South Africans in the comfort of a friend's lounge.

At the moment, die-hard Bok supporters and cynical Bok supporters seem to be one in the same.

These blokes were just that, fed up with the way the Allister Coetzee era was shaping and simply sick and tired of losing.

I was asked, first, for my thoughts on Morne Steyn's inclusion.

"I would have played Jantjies again," I said honestly. 

"We may get the win with Morne, but I think we'd win this with Elton too. Better off playing a guy who has a future with the Springboks."

The thought of seeing Jantjies in the No 10 jersey for another week did not seem to sit well. 

My next task was to give a score prediction. 

"We'll win 24-something with eight Morne Steyn penalties," I said, half in jest. 

As it turns out, I had given us too much credit. 

The 18-10 win for the Boks was inspiring, make no mistake, but not for the reasons we would like. 

They defended like warriors, especially in the second half when under severe pressure from an Australian attack that always looked more dangerous with ball in hand.

To his immense credit, Steyn came to the party, slotting four penalties and two drop goals as he scored all of South Africa's points. 

It was precisely the performance Coetzee would have wanted to see from the 32-year-old as he silenced his critics and reminded that, while he may not be the most enterprising player in the world, he is one that knows how to win Test matches.

Despite being bossed in most of the post-match statistics, nobody could argue against the Boks deserving their win.

It is just a pity that defence, and not attack, won them the game.

Oupa Mohoje, Adriaan Strauss, Eben Etzebeth, Vincent Koch, Pieter-Steph du Toit ... heck, the whole side played their part with some brave and powerful hits. 

Strauss emerged as the man-of-the-match, but in the end it was Steyn who did the business on the scoreboard. 

It is a selection that does not necessarily facilitate the evolution of South African rugby but what Steyn and the Boks did on Saturday was, for the time being, stop the rot. 

Coetzee and the whole of South Africa desperately needed a win, and they did just enough to get one. 

I don't think the coach, nor any of our unconvinced supporters, think for a second that a showing like that will trouble the All Blacks in Durban this weekend. 

As resilient as the Boks were, they will come up against a far more clinical and skilled attacking threat in the world champions. 

You simply can't tackle for the majority of the game against New Zealand and expect not to get hurt. 

At some point, the Boks will have to offer something going forward if they are to have any chance of causing an upset.

Just how Coetzee goes about engineering that attack is where it gets a little tricky. 

On paper, he has attacking players at his disposal. But it just hasn't been happening for the Boks in that regard all winter. 

The path ahead may not be any clearer now than it was last week, but until we figure all of that out, at least we know we can still beat Australia at home through the old tried and tested. 

Twitter: @LloydBurnard

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