Cape Town - Sport24’s Herman Mostert highlights FIVE talking points following the Springboks’ series-clinching 23-12 win over England in Bloemfontein.
1. Bok defensive frailties exposed
Let’s gets the negative aspect out the way first!
England’s two early tries - which saw them race to a 12-0 lead - exposed the Springbok defence in the wider channels.
On both occasions, the Bok wingers were found wanting, seemingly moving in-field to soon.
I fear there is some misunderstanding on defence between the centres and the wingers and something defence guru Jacques Nienaber needs to get right before the Rugby Championship.
Early deficits, like we’ve seen at Ellis Park and Free State Stadium, will end in defeats against the All Blacks.
2. Duane the Bok standout - by far!
Springbok No 8 Duane Vermeulen again proved his worth with a man-of-the-match performance.
Apart from playing a vital leadership role, Vermeulen is also backing that up with his on-field efforts.
The burly No 8 was again immense as a ball-carrier, proved his worth at the breakdown area, while his spectacular first-half try sparked another Springbok comeback.
3. Pressure beginning to tell on England
Eddie Jones and his Red Roses are under pressure after losing the series in South Africa.
Jones had won 22 of his first 23 Tests in charge but has now seen his side lose their last six matches.
Jones’ altercation with fans after the first Test at Ellis Park was well documented and it appears that the pressure is getting to the players as well.
The Test in Bloemfontein was also marred by a post-match confrontation between players Mike Brown, Joe Marler and fans. The Harlequins duo reportedly exchanged angry words with supporters after England surrendered the series.
A further sign of England's frustration came when scrumhalf Ben Youngs walked away from a television interview after one question.
He subsequently apologised on social media but his conduct will not go down well with the English press.4. Bok scrum in ascendancy
It won’t be fair not to comment on the Springboks’ effort at scrum time after a well-earned penalty try.
Tendai “Beast” Mtawarira had played a solid 100th Test but it was replacement props Steven Kitshoff and Thomas du Toit who caught the eye.
Kitshoff replaced Mtawarira early in the second half and Du Toit replaced a somewhat undercooked Frans Malherbe.
The Bok scrum appeared to go up a gear and earned a well-deserved penalty try in the 50th minute as England capitulated under severe pressure.
It was a setback from which the visitors could never recover.
5. No yellow card for a slap in the face?
There were a few eyebrows raised when French referee Romaine Poite was appointed to referee the Test in Bloemfontein.
On Saturday, Poite again copped criticism, with several fans calling for his head on social media.
I’ll highlight one incident where I felt Poite had erred.
English prop Mako Vunipola should have received at least a yellow card for slapping Pieter-Steph du Toit in the face while the Bok flanker was lying on the ground.
Earlier on Saturday, we saw French fullback Benjamin Fall receive a red card for an unintentional mid-air collision with All Blacks flyhalf Beauden Barrett.
Yet, at Free State Stadium later in the day, Vunipola was allowed to continue playing despite deliberate foul play.
Just the previous week at Ellis Park, Vunipola was sent to the sin-bin for a late shoulder charge on Bok scrumhalf Faf de Klerk.
I felt the slap in the face incident was more serious, however this time he was allowed to play on.
World Rugby needs to review not only some of their laws, but also the consistency of how referees apply the laws...