Carl de Villiers, Zululand Observer
In the pool stages one can still get away with foolishness and bounce back, but once you are in the play-off mix where winning margins will be tight and just one act of brilliance or stupidity is likely to mean the difference between victory or defeat, you don’t need hotheads in your team spoiling the party.
One can still forgive players conceding penalties at say the breakdown points where there is a fine line between what’s legal and what’s not – and the action is fast and furious.
But there is simply can be no mercy for cynical yellow card nonsense such as Bok tight-head prop Jannie du Plessis’ shoulder charge against Scotland on Saturday.
It will be moments like these with one of the Boks’ anchor men lounging on the dunce chair for 10 minutes that their World Cup dreams will get wings and fly away forever.
That’s the problem with the Du Plessis brothers. For all Jannie and Bismarck’s fire and brimstone antics one appreciates in the trenches, they will cost you points because they simply cannot help themselves.
Even winger JP Pietersen came perilously close to a send-off after a spear tackle, and the green and gold brains trust will have to address these rulebook ignorances and emotional outbursts or face the consequences.
Now two games removed from the Japan horror, the Springboks are clearly slipping back into the groove.
In beating Scotland 34-16, Fourie du Preez’s boys showed composure and the ability to work effectively around the squad’s solid game structures.
The Scotland warriors must have fancied their chances after South Africa’s shaky start, but the Boks reached under the kilts very quickly to get a firm grip on proceedings, causing performance anxiety among the the Bravehearts.
Saturday’s Bok team and the various combinations, give or take, seems to be the one Meyer has decided to take us forward.
The captaincy of Du Preez ahead of seasoned Victor Matfield was a wise move, since dragon slayer Lood de Jager kicks down the doors in every outing and can no longer be left out of the starting line-up. It might just be that Matfield will work off the bench in future.
Perhaps the only two serious worrisome issues left among supporters are the persistent problems of inaccurate tactical kicking and the second half ‘breeze fever’.
After the firm first-half stranglehold, the Springboks again almost allowed Scotland a look-in the first 20 minutes of the second half before they recovered to seal the deal.
Against the All Blacks and Australia earlier this year they didn’t.