From the Last Word on Rugby department.
A below par quality game saw the Springboks draw the Perth test against the Wallabies on Saturday. A match with equal tries, conversions and penalties (taken) there was nothing to separate the two sides after a draining 80 minutes of The Rugby Championship.
Australia 23 South Africa 23
South Africa – Tries: Jesse Kriel and Malcolm Marx Conversions: Elton Jantjies 2 Penalties: Elton Jantjies 3
Australia – Tries: Kurtley Beale and Tatafu Polotu-Nau Conversions: Bernard Foley 2 Penalties: Bernard Foley 3
The Springboks had all the momentum after five consecutive wins in 2017 and were keen to show that they had made real progress after their abysmal 2016 season. They will probably be the more disappointed team after this encounter, which will ask more questions of their progress than it will answer.
Springboks Draw Perth Test Against Wallabies
The Coaching Conundrum
We would have hoped that the South African Rugby Union (SARU) had learned the hard lessons that came out of 2016. It appears that this is not the case.
The Defense and Exit Play coach is Brendan Venter. A consultant to SARU who rarely travels outside of South Africa. On a day that the Springbok attack was lethargic and bereft of any ideas, it was galling to see the Attack Coach, Franco Smith, sitting in the stands of Thomond Park watching his beloved Cheetahs being thumped by Munster.
The question begs ‘if new Springbok attacking plans will be submitted via an email’ on Monday.
The Tight Phases
The Springboks certainly had the superior lineout and scrum. The Wallabies mostly negated the Springboks superior scrum strength by going very low. Referee Glen Jackson was the cause of his own frustration at scrum time.
At the first few scrums, he allowed the packs to engage and the front rows were competing before the ball was available.
The Wallabies lineout was blighted by poor throw ins by both hookers and they lost four of their own throws.
Chasing the Game
The Springboks can rightfully be accused of chasing the game too early. There were promising attacks early on, most notably this first counter attack early on.
The reality though was that the Springboks attack stuttered for the first 60 minutes of the game and was guilty of panicked passing, and passing to players who were standing still. Static, they were unable to get over the advantage line.
They would have done a lot better to be more direct in the first half and used their superior pack of forwards. The Springboks certainly did not play to their strength and this cost them the victory.
Erratic Kicking Performance
The Springboks kicking game also proved to be a confusing. For the first hour they tried a varied kicking approach using more contestable, shorter kicks. In the last quarter, the kicks became longer and went straight to the Wallabies back three.
They should count themselves lucky that a world class aerial and counter attacking player like Israel Folau did not rip them apart and take the game away from them.
Two Standout Players
The two players who stood out most for the staff at Last Word on Rugby wore the number twelve jerseys for their respective teams.
For the Wallabies it was the deserved Man of the Match, Kurtley Beale. His vision on attack was extraordinary and he was a constant threat.
For the Springboks, Jan Serfontein (see above picture) had a superb all round game, making crucial tackles and breaking the defensive line.
The Springboks now move on to Albany to take on the All Blacks next weekend, and the Wallabies will host the Pumas in Canberra.
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