Cape Town – The Springboks rescuing themselves from a possible first defeat of the season through a big second-half push against Australia continued a relatively pleasing trend for them during 2017.
South Africa are proving an increasingly decent “second 40” outfit, which may be a tribute both to their conditioning levels this year and a stiffened sense of composure and intelligence which means, by extension, that they gradually wear down initially stubborn foes.
The characteristic came to light once more against the Wallabies in Perth on Saturday, when the Boks turned around a halftime deficit of 13-10 – and not too long afterwards 20-10 – to win the second half by an identical 13-10 margin for a deserved 23-23 share of the spoils.
It is also a pleasing hallmark to have in mind when they face enduringly premier world side the All Blacks in Albany this weekend.
When these old rivals last met on New Zealand soil in Christchurch last year, the Springboks were competitive for much of the first half and only trailed 15-10 at the break.
But then they lost their shape and mojo to an increasing extent as the score ballooned to a final 41-13, and six tries to one.
At the very least, there is statistical ammunition from the current Test season to suggest better reason for hope among Bok fans that this year’s altogether more vibrant and purposeful crew – lingering warts and all – won’t cave in like that, and might even produce some of their most defiant rugby in the second period this time.
Not only have they tended to show greater urgency and cohesion then, but the Springboks have also scored more points in the second half in as many as five of their six Tests thus far in the year.
The lone exception is the second Test against France, where they registered 23 in the first period, en route to an eventual 37-15 victory at Kings Park.
Overall, though, the Boks have notched 115 of their 210 points “for”, across the six Tests, in second periods, for a percentage of almost 55.
Even more striking, perhaps, is that 15 of their 23 tries to this point in the season have come after halftime – 65.21 percent.
Here is a reminder of the Springbok results thus far, from most recent, with interval score in brackets:
D 23-23 v Australia, Perth (10-13)
W 41-23 v Argentina, Salta (17-10)
W 37-15 v Argentina, PE (13-5)
W 35-12 v France, Jhb (16-9)
W 37-15 v France, Dbn (23-7)
W 37-14 v France, Pta (16-7)
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