Springboks Snap Losing Streak

From Last Word on Rugby, Ryan Jordan
A dogged display at Loftus Versfeld saw the Springboks snap their current losing streak in the Rugby Championship.

Springboks Snap Losing Streak

South Africa – Penalties: Morne Steyn (4) Drop Goals: Steyn (2)

Australia – Try: Scott Sio Conversion: Bernard Foley. Penalty: Foley

Tense Game

Let us be under no illusions. Both sides will still need to keep the champagne corked until they turn in a much more accomplished performance. It was a turgid game of rugby, but the Springboks were determined to protect their unbeaten record against the Wallabies at Loftus intact. Many were expecting a kick fest when Allister Coetzee named his starting team. There Springboks kicked the ball 25 times out of hand, which is not necessarily excessive. There is still a lot to be done to mature the Springboks kicking game as too often kicks for territory were straight to the Wallabies receivers. It was pleasing to see Morne Steyn push a grubber past the quickly advancing defenders, which has been missing recently.

Set Pieces

It was always thought that the Springboks would attack the Wallabies set pieces and they lived up to that promise. They did pressure the Wallabies scrum to make life uncomfortable for them, but cannot claim outright scrum dominance. What they did manage to do though was put the Wallabies lineout under significant pressure and managed to poach three of their put ins.

Improved Performances

Adriaan Strauss looked to be back to his old self again and put in a Man of the Match performance. Most pundits also agree that this was the best performance by Francois Louw in a long time and was at the forefront of ensuring that the Springboks had the upper hand at ruck time winning ten turnovers to six and snaffling up 19 loose ball from the ground opposed to 13. We would also have to add Morne Steyn to this group as he put in a very assured performance as the starting flyhalf.

Questions on Defense

The Springbok defense has been suspect for the entire duration of The Rugby Championship and questions were being asked of Chean Roux‘s abilities as a Defense Coach, especially as he does not have experience in the position. Defensive alignment was a lot better this weekend, but on field decision making remains in question. Far too many times four of five Springboks defenders would line up on the blind side to defend against two Wallabies attackers. An improved line speed from the Springboks was all that stood between the Wallabies and certain tries. A few other sides who are lot more assured on attack would have taken advantage of these numerical mismatches.

Disruptions Due To Injuries

Coetzee gambled on a six/two split (6 forwards, 2 backs) on the bench and very nearly paid a very heavy price because of that. Injuries to Bryan Habana, Rudi Paige and Jessie Kriel meant that reserve open-side flank Jaco Kriel was forced to play the last twenty minutes of the match out of the left wing. It was the earlier mentioned improved line speed meant that Kriel was not overly exposed.

The Springboks rounded out the game with the unusual back three of Kriel and Willie le Roux on the wings and Patrick Lambie at full back. The Springboks can count themselves very lucky to not be tested with true pace out wide.

Injury Roundup

More information will become available shortly, but this is the information we have at hand. Jessie Kriel left the field with a groin niggle and was replaced by Lionel Mapoe. Bryan Habana took a knock to the thigh, to be replaced by Willie le Roux. Rudi Paige left the field with concussion, forcing left wing Francois Hougaard to scrumhalf. This forced Coetzee to give flanker Kriel a run on the wing. Pieter-Steph du Toit took a knock on the hip and was replaced by Lood de Jager.

Kriel, Habana and Du Toit will be re-evaluated early in the week and it is only Paige that looks certain to miss the match against the All Blacks in Durban next week.

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