Sport / Rugby

Heinz Schenk
3 minute read
17 Sep 2018
12:40 pm

Four reasons why we need to keep calm about the Springboks

Heinz Schenk

The win in Wellington should merely provide encouragement, but not much more.

Faf de Kerk of South Africa runs the ball during The Rugby Championship match between the New Zealand All Blacks and the South Africa Springboks at Westpac Stadium on September 15, 2018 in Wellington, New Zealand. (Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images)

The Springboks were rightly lauded for an excellent victory over the All Blacks this past weekend.

It was a brave and, at times, skilful effort from Rassie Erasmus’ troops, but also one that should merely provide encouragement, not visions of glory.

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The fact of the matter remains that South Africa is still not consistent or coherent enough to suddenly become a team that will challenge New Zealand’s throne at the top of the world rankings.

Saturday’s 36-34 triumph provide ample reasons in this regard.

Here they are.

The All Blacks gifted the Boks 15 points

If Bok fans thought Bongi Mbonambi’s overthrown lineout in Brisbane was nightmarish, then Jordie Barrett’s quick throw in Wellington was positively hellish for the New Zealanders.

The ball harmlessly fell into Willie le Roux’s hands, who was so suprised at his clear run-in to the line that he initially thought he needed to look for someone to pass to.

Furthermore, All Black flyhalf Beauden Barrett only converted two of the hosts’ six tries.

That’s eight points left unfulfilled on the scoreboard and it made all the difference.

The Boks didn’t exactly create a lot of play…

When you enjoyed 25% possession in a match, you’ve worked with crumbs.

There are no two ways about it.

Even Erasmus said afterwards that the “Kiwi game is still way ahead of South Africa’s”, which provides us with a healthy dose of reality.

The All Blacks carried the ball 624 metres, the Boks only 258.

The home side beat 39 defenders, made 19 clean breaks and completed 257 passes as well as 14 offloads.

South Africa beat only 12, made nine breaks and passed a, frankly, pitiful 64 times.

But what the Boks did do well was take their opportunities.

When they were given the chance to score points, they did so – as five tries and 36 points illustrate.

And they defended way too much…

The Boks completed a staggering 235 tackles to New Zealand’s 61.

To put that into perspective, three South Africans – Pieter-Steph du Toit (24), Franco Mostert (24) and Warren Whiteley (20) – collectively made more tackles than the whole of the opposition.

It attests to the players’ commitment and better grasping of defence guru Jacques Nienaber’s system, but such a workload simply isn’t viable.

No team can make 200+ tackles weekly; the physical toll would be too much on the players, while the system itself would start creaking.

There needs to be balance.

Some combinations still need to develop

There’s perhaps no better example of this than the centres.

Lukhanyo Am and Damian de Allende played together for the first time since the series against England in June.

Both performed well individually but didn’t show much flair as a combination.

Also, Erasmus has had four different pairings in the position this year, which suggests the players have at times put up their hands without nailing down a spot.

It’s the same at flyhalf.

We’re still not exactly sure who between Elton Jantjies and Handre Pollard have taken the No 1o jersey by the scruff of the neck.

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