Jannie du Plessis in the sin-bin (Gallo Images)
Cape Town - Sport24’s Herman Mostert highlights FIVE talking points following the Springboks’ 34-16 Rugby World Cup win over Scotland in Newcastle.
1. Improved Bok scrum
After struggling the previous week against Samoa, the Springbok scrum was impressive this time round.
Jannie du Plessis fared better, and apart from his poor discipline, he was not dominated in the set piece.
Loosehead Tendai Mtawarira had arguably his best game of the season. There was much talk beforehand about how he struggled against WP Nel in the past, but “The Beast” wiped the slate clean on Saturday with an impressive left shoulder.
2. Bok discipline
Discipline remains a major problem for Heyneke Meyer’s men. Despite their handsome 34-16 win, they conceded 11 penalties (rugbyworldcup.com).
One of those transgressions landed Du Plessis in the sin-bin for a shoulder charge. It’s unacceptable and an incident like this could prove costly in the knockout stages.
What is more worrying is that Du Plessis could not fathom that he had done anything wrong. He overzealously protested his innocence as he walked off the park, convinced he had stayed within the laws of the game.
Meyer needs to have a serious talk with a player who is already a tad lucky to keep his starting spot ahead of Frans Malherbe...
3. An Oscar for Scotland fullback
Scotland fullback Stuart Hogg deserved an Oscar for trying to fake an injury when he collided in the air with Mtawarira.
Luckily for the Boks, assertive Welsh referee Nigel Owens did not fall for Hogg’s trick and promptly warned the Scottish fullback after seeing a replay of the incident on the big screen.
St James’ Park is the home of English football side Newcastle United and Owens told Hogg that he should opt for a different game if he wanted to fake injury.
“He was committed in the air and there was nothing wrong with it. Dive like that again and come back here in two weeks and play. Not today. Watch it!” Owens warned Hogg.
WATCH the incident here
4. Improved goal-kicking
Last week I wrote about Handre Pollard’s goal-kicking not being up to scratch and how crucial it will be later on in the tournament.
He improved markedly on Saturday, contributing 19 points with the boot, only missing the last try conversion.
He also slotted a deft drop-goal which made amends moments after he threw an intercepted pass which led to Scotland’s try.
That drop was important as it immediately put the Boks more than a converted try ahead of their opponents. Pollard should eye more of the same later in the tournament...
5. Lock conundrum for Bok coach
Meyer will have somewhat of a predicament when Victor Matfield returns to full fitness, given the fact that his replacement - Lood de Jager - had another stellar game.
The 2.05m beanpole had 14 tackles and 13 carries and troubled the Scottish lineout in a man-of-the-match performance.
It will be tough to drop him now...