In Saturday’s victory over the Aussies we saw a very different Bok team to the ones that have played since Heyneke Meyer took over as the new Springbok coach.
Im sure many of us, including me, had high hopes for the Boks with Meyer in charge, after all the success he has had with the Blue Bulls in the Currie Cup and Super Rugby respectively.
I’m sure many supporters up to two weeks ago were regretting the appointment of Meyer after a positive start to this years Rugby Championship when beating Argentina 27-6 but unfortunately nothing since then, drawing against the Pumas 16-all and losing to Australia 26-19 and New Zealand 21-11.
In all these games we saw more of a kicking approach by the Boks rather than using their strong physical forwards to drive it up and put themselves in a position where they can attack with their quick backs. In last weekend’s game we saw just that, forwards taking it up, and backs running with pace and determination.
Many would say the difference came in the no 10 jersey where we saw Johan Goosen getting his first start and Morne Steyn getting a well deserved and long overdue rest. Let’s have a look at what could have been the difference, comparing the last game against the Aussies to the previous ones against Argentina and New Zealand.
Springbok captain Jean de Villiers said the Boks had not changed anything in their game plan, but rather finished off the opportunities they were creating.
But the way that I see it is, by not kicking away the ball the Boks kept possession, they ran it to the opponents and by doing that they were able to put pressure on the Aussies. You don’t create opportunities by kicking away the possession, something that happened to often in previous games.
De Villiers also added, “We have shown that we can create, and now we are starting to finish. It’s not that we went out there with a more attacking mindset. It was more about playing the situation.”
For me it seemed that the players were given more freedom to do what they see fit and “play the situation” as De Villiers puts it. So I’m not totally agreeing with what De Villiers is saying.
In previous games the Boks kicked away most of their possession, the previous 4 tests Steyn kicked 35 times (1158m), ran 6 times (44m) adding to the kicking count fullback Zane Kirshner kicked 16 times (611m) and ran 9 times (53m), Patrick Lambie ran twice and gained 15m, and the Boks scored 6 tries. Won 1, drew 1 and lost 2. (Total kicks 51 (1769m), total runs 17 (97m))
If we look at the last game, Goosen kicked 5 times (127m), ran 4 times (38m), Zane kicked twice adding 103m ran 4 times with 29m and Lambie kicked twice gaining 100m, and Boks scored 5 tries. (Total kicks 9 (330m), total runs 8 (67m))
I understand it’s maybe a bit premature to compare Goosen’s one game to a seasoned flyhalf like Steyn, but if you look at the stats it seems like the Boks were more focused on running and attacking with ball in hand then to kick away possession, a Springbok team we all wanting to see, a Springbok team that’s more focused and know what they need to do to get the job done and a Springbok team thats able to win games.Tweet