Had Dan Carter matched his career average of around 14 points a test, Saturday’s game against the All Blacks at Newlands could have resulted in a 29-point defeat for the Springboks – which would have made it one of the biggest in history.
Dan Retief writes on SuperRugby that that is the sobering thought for a Springbok group who seem reluctant to concede just how bad a showing this was against what is a quite ordinary All Black side.
And I’m afraid it’s been coming for some time.
It may be the inevitable World Cup hangover allied to the changing of the coaching personnel, but in every test this year there’s been a lack of focus, and absence of intensity and an element of casualness in the Boks’ approach – and the chickens finally came home to roost at Newlands.
Even in the satisfying victory over the New Zealanders in Dunedin there was a lot that was wrong and it was a concern for me that everyone with a role to play seemed to forget that until Ricky Januarie’s magical try in the 73rd minute the All Blacks had been having the better of that match.
The coaching group’s “off-the-cuff” approach is dangerously at odds with South Africa’s time-tested pattern and, of course, it did not help that going into Saturday’s test the like of Fourie du Preez and Percy Montgomery were put under external pressure from on high the like of which no other international players have to deal with.
The one good thing about Newlands was the Boks’ potent scrummaging (which would have been noted with some alarm by Robbie Deans and his Wallabies) but for the rest it was a litany of so many errors that it was amazing that after 65 minutes the score was only 5-0 – a factor which supports my contention that the current All Blacks are average when compared to some of the outfits who have been here in the post-isolation years.
The Boks now need to beat the Wallabies twice, with both bonus points for tries, to edge ahead of the All Blacks on the Tri-Nations log, and then hope for the Wallabies to beat the Kiwis in the final game in Brisbane to have a chance of snatching the title – a big, and unlikely to be successful, ask.
Hopefully though they’ll be resolved to give it a full go in an effort to rub off the tarnish which is already creeping up the Webb Ellis Cup.
And a good place to start would be to eradicate the sloppiness which seems to be the outcome of the new coach’s efforts to introduce a more adventurous approach.
My notes from the test, parts of which follow below, make for a pretty damning report card.
00 – SA kicked off and Butch James put it straight into touch.
01 – Fourie du Preez put kick over deadball line.
03 – Spies wins lineout but passes wildly, followed by poor pass by Bekker, Habana dropped catch, quick lineout by Habana puts Boks under pressure.
06 – Smith try! Five phases, McCaw standing out grubbered for Smith who got to the touch. 0-5.
09 – SA scrummed free-kick, looking dangerous, but Du Preez lost ball!
10 – Bismarck broke through but pinned for not releasing.
11 – Monty going to corner but forward pass to him from Jacobs breaks up movement.
14 – Monty got ball back as it bounced off Habana, Burger couldn’t hold ball off Monty.
15 – Going open Matfield dummied and got tackled, then lost ball.
17 – James drop-out went in-goal and gave ABs attacking scrum.
18 – Jean de Villiers penalised playing ball with hands in ruck.
21 – CJ blocking as Jean de Villiers breaks through.
24 – Beast forced turnover. JP great chase to get ball. Jacobs went on own and got turned!
34 – Great chance as Boks threatened, but again a break-down penalty.
35 – Great weaving run on short side by Habana, but he had stepped out as Andrew Hore hit him.
38 – Du Preez again kicks over deadball line.
44 – Montgomery missed first penalty.
46 – Du Preez taken out by Brad Thorn chasing kick. Montgomery missed again.
48 – Great cross-kick by Butch. JP caught Muliaina to force 5m scrum.
50 – Boks mount 5 close phases on ABs line… and then turn over the ball!
51 – Monty coming infield dropped Carter’s kick.
53 – Boks lost own lineout.
56 – Carter drop charged by Spies, who got away but no support to keep move going.
59 – Du Preez kick out on full.
59 – Januarie on for Du Preez. Watson for Burger???
61 – Steyn didn’t find touch with penalty.
63 – Spies couldn’t hold Januarie’s pass after he caught kick and unloaded under pressure.
65 – Carter try! Going over on his back. On 14th phase. Through Watson and Steyn 0-12.
71 – Jantjes running onto wide pass by Butch dropped it; after breakout by JP.
74 – Mealamu try! Jean de Villiers gifted it to him with shocking pass after Steyn tried to spark something with a quick throw-in. 0-19.
76 – James’ flat pass missed by Jantjes and ball into touch.
My notes include remarks about slapdash play, lineouts going wrong, losing the ball in contact, dreadful support play and queries over why Matt Goddard allowed the All Blacks to play off their feet, but not the Boks, and to check (with Andre Watson) why so many of the penalties against South Africa were full-arms while the ones we received were bent-arms as the offences seemed to have been similar.
But this was not a defeat for which the Boks could blame the match official. It was down to their own mistakes, some 30 in the list above (that’s close to one every two minutes) and unless there is a radical improvement over the next two weeks Peter de Villiers’ charming idiomatic expressions are going to wear thin.
The Springboks are the world champions and it is time they started showing that on the field. On Saturday’s performance those writers from the antipodes who question our right to the golden trophy seem to have a point.Tweet