Richard Ferguson

Deadly defence sinks French

Written by Richard Ferguson (Richard Ferguson)

Posted in :France Series 2017, Original Content, Springboks on 17 Jun 2017 at 19:16
Tagged with : , , , , ,

The Springboks have defeated France in Durban, scoring 4 tries to 2 in clincing the series with a 37 – 15 victory.

It was a superb defensive performance that led to the Boks winning this match with a score that somewhat flatters the home team. France were out of the blocks early with a flying start, scoring through ex-Durban boy Scott Spedding. The Boks seemed to run onto the field cold as they were run off their feet in the opening exchanges.

Once they woke up though, the Boks really took their chances as first Jan Serfontein and then Siya Kolisi scored tries, the Boks scoring 23 unanswered points to lead 23 – 7 at half time.

The second half started in much the same fashion as the first, the French putting the Boks under immense pressure. At one stage, the French had 25 phases inside the Bok 22, eventually having to settle for a penalty. Two further tries from Coenie Oosthuizen and Elton Jantjies late in the half, sealed the win.

The stats tell the true story of the game, the Boks having to make 169 tackles compared to 60 odd by the French, and in that still keeping France to only 2 tries.

Siya Kolisi won man of the match after first scoring an intercept try and then creating the final try for Elton Jantjies. Kolisi was one of the stand out players on the day, albeit in the loose. Jan Serfontein was surely also in the reckoning for the award, having played probably his best test to date. The centres worked really well together, especially on defence. The back three of Rhule, Skosan and Coetzee had very little to do on attack but showed again that their defensive capabilities cannot by questioned.

It still wasn’t a perfect performance, it was uglier than it had to be, but for the Boks to really shine this season, they will do well to win from having less possession and having to make the amount of tackles they did tonight. I asked in my preview for the Boks to step up on defence, and they did not disappoint.


  • Well done….better French, superb Boks.

    Good on AC, and I have a sneaky suspicion Venter has a lot more influence than he’s getting credit for.

    All round, good Boks performance.

  • Comment 1, posted at 17.06.17 19:23:49 by FireTheLooser Reply
  • The French attack was seriously one-dimensional,. Running straight at the big guys, no kicks and not going wide when it was on. When they did go wide, they made lots of ground. Both tries resulting from mistakes by a confused Bok defence.

  • Comment 2, posted at 18.06.17 02:58:47 by fyndraai Reply
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  • For me its the team spirit … I have to give tons of credit to warren whitely

  • Comment 3, posted at 18.06.17 09:00:45 by byron Reply

  • @fyndraai (Comment 2) : All true. France was bizarrely unstructured but I reckon this side would still have beaten the 2016 Boks.

    It was, for me, a performance that provided hope and showed a willingness to improve as a team. So really happy with that aspect. Kudos to Warren and the guys.

  • Comment 4, posted at 18.06.17 09:16:59 by vanmartin Reply
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  • Bollocking start? :mrgreen:

  • Comment 5, posted at 18.06.17 09:42:25 by McLovin Reply

  • Despite the quality of the opposition, was nice to watch a Bok game where there seemed to be some kind of plan and coaching in place.

    Two 20 point plus wins in a row. WIll take that. 😎

  • Comment 6, posted at 18.06.17 09:44:44 by McLovin Reply

  • I agree that this was not a complete performance but still much more improved than this time a year ago. I also get the feeling that the players are starting to play for each other…finally!! The pride of the players are returning and I think that it has a lot to do with out new captain. I hope they continue to build on this performance and climb those rankings to where the proud Bok deserves to be.

    @FireTheLooser (Comment 1) : I agree. There is a massive difference in the team… the sort of difference that a new role player brings rather than one man’s mind shift.

  • Comment 7, posted at 18.06.17 10:52:05 by Farlington Reply

  • @McLovin (Comment 6) : A misfiring french side is still better than an on form Italian side. And a convincing win against that still shows a lot of improvement on the balance.

  • Comment 8, posted at 18.06.17 11:20:03 by coolfusion Reply

  • very impressed with how du preez played. added so much grunt and hard hitting. kitshoff as well

  • Comment 9, posted at 18.06.17 17:38:30 by Dunx Reply

  • The linked images from the run up to the 2 French tries, show pretty much the same defensive issues that were evident last year.

    1. Turning a 3 on 3 into a 2 on 1 situation by 2 Boks going for the ball carrier.
    2. Defenders running away from the ball carrier.
    3. Defenders bunching up. Three Boks covering 2 opponents.
    4. Running away from the ball carrier.

  • Comment 10, posted at 19.06.17 02:14:38 by fyndraai Reply
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  • Before we celebrate the 27 phase goal line stand, we should consider that the Boks gave the French 27 phases of possession without creating a turnover. Can anyone say: Attack the breakdown?

    Additionally the French move started on their own 10-meter line and had progressed to the vicinity of the Bok try-line by phase 10. That is: Until their own try-line prevented them from backing away from the ball carriers the Boks gave up an average of 5 meters per phase.

  • Comment 11, posted at 19.06.17 02:26:45 by fyndraai Reply
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  • @fyndraai (Comment 11) : It appears most of the Boks will try to get hands on the ball when a ruck begins, and if they miss the first shot, simply concede the ruck. Only JLdP seemed to want to counter ruck, why only him? Instead of conceding the ruck and simply staying in the ruck not doing anything, and taking yourself out of the defensive structure, why not counter ruck, it is very effective in turning over the ball, even after a ruck has been formed for a while. It seems getting hands on the ball early and winning the turnover is the glory most are seeking instead of the grunt which also wins turnovers.

  • Comment 12, posted at 19.06.17 04:42:09 by Dancing Bear Reply
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    Dancing Bear
  • @fyndraai (Comment 11) : But other than that, I am not as negative as you are about the Bok performances so far this year. Yes there are still weaknesses that have to be addressed, but as some have pointed out, the spirit is there, and while you are right, the Boks did not make a turnover in 27 phases, they also did not concede any points (or perhaps 3), so there are two sides to the coin.

  • Comment 13, posted at 19.06.17 04:45:18 by Dancing Bear Reply
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    Dancing Bear
  • Nice to see no comments here about the ref. I thought this ref did really well, and the fact nobody is talking about him speaks volumes for how he let the game flow, was even handed, and consistent.

  • Comment 14, posted at 19.06.17 04:47:50 by Dancing Bear Reply
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    Dancing Bear
  • @Dancing Bear (Comment 13) : On current performance, I think only NZ, the Poms and Ireland still comfortably lead us, we should realistically be able to take the rest.

    So yes, work to do, but a base to work from has been laid.

  • Comment 15, posted at 19.06.17 07:45:35 by FireTheLooser Reply

  • I must say i thoroughly enjoyed this test match. Good crowd- Loftus should be ashamed. And it was an entertaining game. Thought the French would be better and i did see glimpses of some very good play their 13 on debut i think is a good player. But it was evident that they have only got together this week where as the contnuity in the Boks selection definitely helped. Not to sound mean but the Mahoje injury also helped us as DuPeez allowed Kolisi and Whiteley the freedom to play as he was the aggressor at the ruck and tackle etc. Another good performance from Ross Cronje. Mapoe made a lot of tackles as well. Still a long way to go with much tougher tests but 2 from 2 we can hardly moan about. Just an aside- was nice to see Venter on the field during the warm up really giving the players gears if they dropped a ball or looked a little sloppy.

  • Comment 16, posted at 19.06.17 08:38:10 by SheldonK Reply

  • Got to agree with so many on here. This Bok team does still have a long way to go but to see where we’ve come from and to see the renewed energy and passion in the team is a huge positive. The attacking intent is fantastic and some of the handling we saw this weekend is a world apart from what we saw in 2016. A lot of the guys performing are also the guys I deemed to be “not good enough”, so a shout out to Kolisi, Jantjies, Serfontein in particular for outstanding performances thus far. We can only be judged on who we play and therefore I think we have passed with flying colours. We’re not scraping through for these wins but rather convincingly outplaying our opposition and that’s what I expect from the Boks when facing, in my opinion, a “weaker” side.

    On the defensive front I do feel we are far too passive and really need to aim to concede less territory whilst in open play. Our ruck defense and counter rucking needs work but we haven’t exactly been selecting players to full this roll and with Jean-Luc due for a start we should see more of this. However not conceding points is also valuable and I’m impressed with our defensive discipline which also wins matches.

    This has been a great start to 2017 and I look forward to the Bok evolution continuing going forward.

  • Comment 17, posted at 19.06.17 11:10:39 by Hulk Reply

  • @Dancing Bear (Comment 13) :

    Pinning the opponents on the 5 meter line for 17 phases is great, but it would have been much better if they had pin them on the halfway line.

    Why did they not? Clearly they were capable.
    The answer is that they played with spirit and not with a plan. Spirit is to defend ferociously when you are forced to. A plan is to do it when you choose to. When their goal line defense is broken, as it will be by better teams, their spirit will be broken with it and then they’ll be in the exact same space they were last year.

  • Comment 18, posted at 20.06.17 04:52:11 by fyndraai Reply
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  • @fyndraai (Comment 18) : I feel the reason we are finding ourselves pinned on our 5m line is because our defence drifts with their attack to much, opposed to rushing up like the British and Irish Lions are doing at the moment. However when we have no choice but to avoid conceding territory on defence we seem capable of it so to me that means our defence is sound but we’re using the wrong tactic defending our wider channels. Obviously I am aware that a more capable attacking team (like NZ) will breach that defence given the amount of possession we allow at the moment but I don’t feel that it makes us a weak defensive unit.

    As far as the spirit of this team goes, perhaps we need to give Whiteley the benefit of the doubt that he can rally our team if we are behind and not just fall apart like we saw in 2016. Time however will tell.

  • Comment 19, posted at 20.06.17 11:44:16 by Hulk Reply

  • I think lets be honest…most of us thought the French would win the series 3-0. The fact that the Boks are 2-0 having won by 20pts both games definitely calls for credit to be given to them. Yes there will be tougher tests, and yes the Boks will prob lose a few. But what i can say for certain is that the Boks are in a much better place now than after the 2nd game against Ireland last year…

  • Comment 20, posted at 20.06.17 12:50:10 by SheldonK Reply

  • @SheldonK (Comment 20) : Yep, watching this French side in the six nations they showed glimmers of building to be a good team. I dont think they have played to their potential, the season has been long and well they are the French so may just blow us away on Saturday. All of this should take nothing away from the very visible turn around that the Boks are undergoing right now. Certainly not world beaters but at least we now know that they will go out there and give it their all.

  • Comment 21, posted at 20.06.17 14:44:59 by Salmonoid the Subtle Reply
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    Salmonoid the Subtle
  • @SheldonK (Comment 20) : That sums up my feeling on the matter. I very much doubt we’re in a position to pick up a win against the AB’s but I’d be very surprised/disappointed if there’s not an improvement on our 2016 win record. Hoping to see good hit outs against the Pumas and Wallabies.

  • Comment 22, posted at 20.06.17 15:47:24 by vanmartin Reply
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