Newcastle - Springbok pack kingpin Duane Vermeulen
says the side are getting to grips now with an area of regular weakness this
year: closing out matches in their favour in the dying stages.
Duane Vermeulen (Gallo Images)
Their inconsistent results during 2015,
right up to very recently at the World Cup itself, have been attributable in no
small measure to a strange subsidence habit in the final quarter or thereabouts
Games that immediately spring to mind are
the Castle Rugby Championship clashes against both Australia and New Zealand,
when the Boks had seemed quite healthily set for conquest until they lost grips
at critical, advanced stages.
The same virus was evident again in their
tumultuous, surrendered first RWC 2015 match against Japan in Brighton, when
the rank underdogs launched raid after raid in the closing minutes and the Boks
lost their shape and reportedly strayed from a pre-arranged formula with
But the phenomenon was pleasingly banished - or more specifically reversed - in the 46-6 bounce-back victory over Samoa
in Birmingham last Saturday, when South Africa played some of their most
compelling rugby in the final 21 minutes as they ran in four of their six tries
on the day.
Vermeulen, speaking at the intended
captain’s press conference at St James’ Park here on Friday - where the Boks
did not present acting skipper Fourie du Preez ahead of the big Scotland clash
and instead opted for a trio comprising Vermeulen, Tendai Mtawarira and
backline coach Ricardo Loubscher - told Sport24 there had been a conscious
quest to break the fadeout trend.
“Yes, we actually had a good chat about
that. We had (noticed) that stat and knew it was something we had to work on.
“I wouldn’t say we’ve yet figured out quite
what the problem has been. Is it a fatigue issue? A lack of effort? We
definitely believe it doesn’t (lie there) ... everyone gives their best.
“I think much of it comes down to
discipline; like last week we still gave away 15 penalties. We definitely want
to get that figure down, and when you get that down, you’re a little bit more
on the front foot – you don’t find yourself standing and facing a possible
three points against you every five or six minutes.
“Hopefully we can keep working on that
aspect, (as well as) that stage between 50 and 70 minutes ... keep improving.
It will also help us maintain the winning rugby brand we want to have.
“The vibe’s been much better this week. The
main focus has still been how we want to play and what we as a team want to
our chief writer on Twitter: @RobHouwing. Rob is attending the Bok pool phase
of RWC 2015 to provide news and analysis for Sport24 readers.