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Post Mortem 5 by Bill van Zyl

 

Rugby Championships Round 5

 

I settled into my armchair to watch the two test matches scheduled for Saturday afternoon and early Sunday morning with a certain sense of déjà vu. In both tests I was about to watch I had a pretty sure idea of what would happen. Both tests promised to provide wholly predictable game plans and outcomes. They mostly did exactly that.

 

Let me start with the second of the two tests, the All Blacks playing against Argentina. If form and precedent held true, the Argies would throw everything including the kitchen sink at the All Blacks, who would absorb the pressure for as long as it took to drain the Argentineans’ of their enterprise, stamina, and focus. And then the All Blacks would strike!

 

This has been the All Blacks favoured game plan for the entire year of 2016. They did it three times against Wales, then they repeated the process twice against the Aussies, and then again against the Argies, and a week later against the Boks. It was all pretty predictable. Absorb the pressure, subdue, and then penetrate. And they would win, fairly comfortably. That is what they do, and that is how they do it.

 

On Sunday morning we saw the All Blacks win, fairly comfortably, again. But the prediction of a period of Argie pressure followed by All Black domination was reversed. The All Blacks came out firing and by the end of the first half the game was all but done and dusted. When the All Blacks lead 29 – 3 at halftime you can expect a somewhat difficult second half.

 

And so it was. The second half started badly for the Pumas as Ben Smith scored soon after the restart, and Barrett converted to take the score out to 36 – 3. The game was over and Steve Hansen decided to rest some key players, throwing on his reserves, including the youngster Damian McKenzie for his debut in the black jersey.  The game deteriorated into a scrappy affair that at times seemed to be all arms and legs flying in every direction as the Argies came back into the game.

 

The Argentineans actually “won” the second half, scoring 14 points to the All Blacks 7, but it was much too little, much too late. The All Blacks having ably assisted them in their second half comeback by playing 20 minutes of rugby with just 14 men on the field, thanks to consecutive yellow cards.

 

The Pumas might suggest that they were “robbed” when Agustín Creevy was denied a try on 18 minutes when referee Jaco Peyper thought the impressive No 8 Facundo Isa had knocked the ball on. It was actually a ball ripped by TJ Perenara, and thus not a knock on. Peyper got it wrong wrong, but I doubt whether that would have changed the eventual outcome of the match at all.

 

Opponents of the All Blacks have spent many years trying to develop tactics that would give them an edge against the men in black. 2016 has seen the arrival of a completely new tactic, and I hope Allister Coetzee and his team of coaches are taking note.

 

It is called the TBT or “Tactical Boot Throw” – the Aussies were the first to deploy this new tactic when Nick Phipps managed to remove Malakai Fekitoa’s left boot during a tackle, and then grabbed the boot and hurled it far as he could into the Westpac Stadium crowd.

 

On Sunday we saw the Argies try the same tactic when Pumas halfback Santiago Iglesias got rid of Anton Lienert-Brown's boot following New Zealand's first try. Iglesias had slipped the tackle that let Lienert-Brown in to score the try, but this did not prevent him from pouncing on the All Black’s lost boot and quickly throwing it into touch.

 

I guess desperate teams must use desperate tactics?

 

South Africa vs Australia

 

Turning back to the Saturday afternoon game when South Africa hosted Australia at Loftus Verseveld.

 

This game was as predictable as death and taxes. Two mediocre teams slugging it out in a dire game of mostly poor rugby.

 

Allister Coetzee’s selections told us that he had abandoned all idea of playing enterprising rugby as he desperately sought a victory, any victory, any which way. A win that would alleviate some of the unrelenting and uncompromising media and supporter pressure on him and on his team. It was a snap-shot of so many of his predecessors in the Bok coaching role, the unrelenting pressure to win games eventually breaks even the strongest spirit and the coaches start to look a bit like fearful rabbits, frozen in the headlights on an onrushing 18-wheeler truck.

 

Think of Heyneke Meyer towards the end of his tenure as coach as he gave up on enterprising rugby and reverted to playing an archaic style of safety-first rugby with a team of has-beens and old men whom he trusted. Think of Pieter de Villiers and his increasingly wayward public pronouncements as the pressure ratcheted up. Think of Jake White in his mid-term days as Bok coach and that really strange moment when he was “recalled” from an overseas tour to come and explain the Bok’s poor record. Think of Rudolf Straueli and his increasingly paranoid eyes as he sank deeper and deeper into the mire of fear and conspiracy theories.

 

It is the common denominator in the career of anyone brave enough to accept the appointment of Springbok coach. The media pressure is a constant. The fan pressure is a constant. And they are unforgiving and unrelenting. I do not need to repeat the headlines and the quotes. You have read them all, over and over again.

 

Once Allister’s team had been announced, and we saw Morne Steyn as his choice of starting flyhalf with Pat Lambie at fullback, and a six to two forward weighting on the bench, it did not take a rocket scientist to work out that the Boks would be focused on playing safety first rugby with just one thing in mind – kicking for territory and reliance on the Australian penchant for bleeding penalties to give the Boks goal kicking opportunities.

 

In my preview for this game I said:

 

“Morné Steyn is a known quantity, a kicking flyhalf and not much more. The Wallabies have played against him before and they know exactly what to expect. So do we.”

 

I also suggested that the Boks would be looking to exploit the Aussie tendency to bleed penalties and make constant handling errors. And so it came to pass. The South Africa reversion to kicking rugby saw them kick the ball out-of-hand 25 times, with Morne Steyn launching 11 of those kicks from the pivot position.

 

Under most circumstances kicking for territorial advantage means you end up playing in the opposition half of the field, but the Bok kicking accuracy remained a huge problem as the Aussies managed to field 18 of those kicks and either return the ball into the Bok half of the field or run straight back at the defence.

 

If you re going to kick the ball, somebody has to chase it. Somebody forgot to tell the Bok backs to chase the kicks.

 

The constant kicking, coupled to the inaccuracy of the kicks and a lack of pressure on the receivers, contributed to the imbalance in both possession stats and territorial advantage. The Australians had 55% of the possession and 60% of the territorial advantage.

 

The Aussies conceded 10 penalties, giving Morne Steyn 4 opportunities to convert their indiscretions into points on the board. He missed just one very long-range attempt. The 12 points from penalties would have been enough to win the game, but we can add in Steyn’s 2 drop goals to stretch the winning spread to 8 points.

 

When the dust has settled and sober reflection is the order of the day, we have a Bok victory built on a somewhat flawed and inaccurate kicking game that exploited the mediocrity of the Australian rugby team and their inability to do anything with the ball in hand.

 

There are many for whom “a win is a win” but this win was nothing more than that. Unless you are one of those supporters that focus only on winning and nothing else, there is little to celebrate here.

 

Yes. The forwards did their job pretty well. They won their scrums, contested the Aussie scrums, stole three Aussie lineouts, and won the game on the ground too. 10 turnovers to 6 is good stuff. Collecting 19 loose balls to the Aussie 13 is also good stuff.

 

It was not a great display of complete forward domination, but it was a good display of competent forward rugby.

 

Yes, the Springboks have rediscovered their mojo on defence. There were some moments of angst for supporters - 21 slipped tackles is way too many for comfort at this level of the game, but the second line of defence held, the cover defence was good, and the moments of scrambling defence were exceptional. Eben Etzebeth (again) take a bow. After the woeful defensive performance against the All Blacks there was a marked improvement on Saturday.

 

However, there is a still a very serious problem in the South African back division!

 

The stark reality is that the Springbok backline looked as bland as railway café custard. There was nothing to suggest that it was worth a second helping, and there were far too many lumps to make the whole thing digestible.

 

The backs might have defended better, but that seems to be all they did, all afternoon. There was absolutely zero enterprise on view. No excitement, no penetration, no nothing. Nobody tried to do anything at all. I have seen my old, lazy, Labradors looking more exciting with a tennis ball in the mouth than the Bok backline with a rugby ball!

 

Let’s examine the issues:

 

A 32-year-old flyhalf who has never been known for anything other than his kicking game.  Yes, he brought some stability and discipline to the flyhalf berth after the rattled waywardness of Elton Jantjies. But he brought zero enterprise. Yes, his defence in the 10 channel was a vast improvement over the flyhalf of the past couple of weeks.

 

His tactical and territorial kicking was not pinpoint and gave the Australians far too many opportunities to bring the game straight back into the Bok half of the field. When he did pass the ball to his backs it was mostly of the flat-footed shovel pass variety, forcing his midfield to take the ball slowly and often going sideways. He plays in the pocket, 5 meters deeper than most modern flyhalves, which drags his backs 5 meters and more back from the gain line. This is nothing new, Morne Steyn has played that game all his life.

 

Moving on to the rest of the backline – we had Bryan Habana on the right wing. Firstly, he is a wing, that much is known and respected. Secondly, he is most usually chosen as a left wing, but he has played on the right often enough to be competent in that position.

 

He was the only member of the Bok back division deployed in a position where he normally plays rugby, out on the wing! Albeit on the opposite side of the field to his preferred position.

 

Then we start to find players completely out of position. Pat Lambie at fullback, Pat most usually plays as a flyhalf. He has played fullback, but it has been a while, and there is no doubt that he is essentially a flyhalf, not a fullback. Juan de Jongh chosen at inside centre has built a career as a specialist outside centre. Jesse Kriel does not know whether he is a centre or a fullback and has never been given the opportunity to settle into either position. Francoise Hougaard is a scrumhalf forced out onto the left wing.

 

You get the picture?

 

The entire backline outside of the halfbacks are playing out of position!

 

And that has to be the primary cause for the complete lack of enterprise in the Bok backline!

 

Consider this: A player who is a specialist in a position develops his tactical nous, his actions and reactions, his entire style of play to the point where he does his specialist job instinctively. He simply knows exactly what he has to do, without conscious thought. Once he has polished his positional game to the highest level, and has developed those instincts, he is free to start looking around for opportunities, he can begin to react to those fleeting moments that require instinctive exploitation. He is free to play an enterprising game, if that is his nature.

 

If he is playing out of position, the player must start to think about what he is doing, he has to modify instinctive reactions to adjust to the requirements of a different position. It will, understandably, slow down his on-field decision making. Watch Juan de Jongh. He is a so obviously a specialist 13. On defence his instinct is to get slightly ahead of his inside centre to block the channel for an opposing inside centre to try and run around De Jongh’s partner, and to block the opposition outside centre from coming in by cutting down his space. He also turns inwards slightly to look to block long skip passes, possibly even intercept the pass.

 

During the last couple of weeks we have seen De Jongh react instinctively on defence. He rushes out of the 12 position as if he is a 13!! His instinct is to do the job he has trained to do for years, and now he has to do it differently. This instinctive play exposed the flyhalf channel and the 12 channel to anyone who thought to exploit the gap in the Bok defence. The All Blacks did so!

 

On attack De Jongh is also used to taking the pass or offload from his inside centre with the freedom to run, straight, in or out. His job was to break the line, now he is expected to be a second distributor. He is good enough to do the 12 job at franchise level if called upon to do it, but the pace and pressure of test match rugby requires a specialist inside centre.

 

We have the same issue with Pat Lambie at fullback, Jesse Kriel at outside centre, Francois Hougaard on the left wing….. None of them are specialists in the positions they are playing rugby for South Africa and, perhaps the biggest problem of them all, none of them are playmakers.

 

Perhaps I need to define what I mean by playmakers?

 

To me a playmaker is a player who sparks a team’s offensive play. They are players with the vision to see opportunities in the micro-seconds that they present themselves and then have the instinct, skill and creativity to exploit those opportunities. They are the players who can read a game and have the ability to sense the ebb and flow of the game and their opponents’ strengths, weaknesses and momentary lapses in concentration and know when and where to create and exploit opportunities.

 

Perhaps the most important words are vision and creativity.

 

On the evidence presented by the South African back division on Saturday none of the players wearing green and gold have any vision or creativity in their blood. There is no playmaker in the Bok backline. (I will grant Pat Lambie the excuse that he was playing at fullback, he is a different player when wearing the 10 jersey.)

 

Not that South Africa does not have such playmakers – we certainly do! The single biggest issue is the failure of South African coaches to exploit and nurture those special talents and to coach the rest of their players into the mindset focused on taking advantage of the playmakers and their unique abilities.

 

Think of players like Willie le Roux. New Zealanders will tell you that he is one of the best running fullbacks in the world, but in South Africa his natural abilities are abused, restricted, and frequently criticized for being wayward. The real problem is that too many of his South African teammates have no idea how to run support lines, be it off Willie le Roux or anyone else. They have no idea how to run off le Roux into space or to look for the off-loads and little chips and grubbers that are his forte.

 

Willie le Roux is slated for being inaccurate and running away from his support, yet the real problem is that there are very few that have the instinct to exploit the opportunities he creates.

 

Le Roux is not the only natural playmaker in the country. There are others with similar natural attributes, the likes of Francoise Venter, Jan Serfontein, William Small-Smith, Frans Steyn, Damian de Allende and others come to mind. Francois Hougaard too, was such a player in his youth. We have the playmaking abilities of Handre Pollard, Pat Lambie when he is playing at 10. We have youngsters like Jean-Luc du Plessis and Robert du Preez, Garth April. Faf de Klerk has some of those playmaking instincts too.

 

The problem is that in most cases the natural talents of these players have been suppressed and the instincts subdued by coaches that seek to impose rigid game plans and styles on these players. Many the players I have mentioned have been coached into sterile submission by a series of provincial and franchise coaches.

 

Elton Jantjies is a superb playmaker when he is on the front foot and playing Super Rugby. Sadly he has not been able to make the step up to Test Match level, and he has been found wanting when forced onto the back foot. He has also shown mental weakness when pressurized by onrushing loose forwards and halfbacks, and that is a problem that will be exploited by every team he plays against at the top level of the game.

 

He is like a cricketer who has shown fear for short-pitched bowling. The news spreads and every quick bowler in the world will make sure he drops a few that are aimed at the throat.

 

Which brings me back to the South African back division that played against Australia on Saturday. This was a backline without a single  playmaker in their midst,  with zero penetration, zero ideas, no enterprise, and nothing at all to offer on attack. This is not a backline that will purposefully go out to win a test for South Africa.

 

There is no point in having forwards that dominate the set-pieces, win the ball on the ground, gobble up the loose ball, and work themselves to a standstill on the cover defence and scramble, when you have backs that do nothing with the ball except kick it back to the opposition.

 

You can win all your lineouts and steal three from the opponents but it all becomes a bit pointless when those lineouts are all in your own half of the field.

 

I come back to the point I made in my Preview for this test. I am confused! I am confused by Allister Coetzee’s selections. I am confused by his game plan, or lack of it. 

 

I can understand that he is under inhuman pressure to win games, and that he has to take into account the wholly unreasonable demands of politicians too. But, and this is my confusion, we do have the talent available in this country to build a superb back-line, yet we are not doing so. We are selecting players out of position, we are avoiding the playmakers, and we are reverting to the blandest of bland game plans just to avoid losing.

 

It is all lumpy custard.

 

The Game:

 

A near-capacity crowd at Loftus was in ecstasy when one of their favoured sons, Morne Steyn slotted a drop goal after just four minutes of rugby. This was Blue Bulls territory and this was an ex-Bull playing they way they like to see the game played.

 

It took another four minutes before Australia were back on level pegging at 3-all when Bernard Foley kicked his penalty.

 

The next six minutes saw the Wallabies throw everything at the Boks. Their ball retention has been superb all year, and for once they managed to convert retention through the phases into points when Scott Sio scored the only try of the game to take the Wallabies out to a 10-3 advantage.

 

That was also the last time the Australian half of the scoreboard would show any movement on this Pretoria afternoon.

 

It is perhaps important to note that the Australian possession, territorial advantage, and pressure on the Bok line  that gave them their try stemmed from one of South Africa’s perennial problems. An inaccurate clearance kick by Bryan Habana failed to find touch.  Australia kept possession through the phases until the gap opened up for Sio and the try was scored.

 

The much touted kicking range of Wallaby winger Reece Hodge was soon to be displayed as he had a go with a penalty from 65 meters out, but he was a bit short on distance. 

 

The next bit of excitement in the afternoon came when Morne Steyn kicked his first penalty of the match to reduce the point spread to just 4.

 

The Wallabies came back into the Bok half and stayed there until a turnover by Francois Louw relieved the pressure.

 

At the 34 minute mark South Africa launched one of their very few attacks of the day, with Bryan Habana chipping ahead to chase into the Australian 22. He was chasing his own kick when he was deliberately taken out by Israel Folau, who earned a ten-minute rest in the sin-bin for a professional foul.

 

Should it have been a penalty try?  No, Michael Hooper fielded the kick out of the air, so there was no chance of a try. Had Habana’s kick been 10 meters deeper there might have been a case for the referee to consider, but his penalty and yellow card was the correct decision.

 

Not that Wayne Barnes was having a great day with the whistle. He had penalized Vincent Koch for having his hand on the ground when it was in fact the Wallaby loose-head’s hand. He had missed a knock-on by Bernard Foley, he had missed Will Genia’s scrum put in right under his eighth-man’s feet, and he had missed a couple of forward passes. He penalized South Africa when Kerevi visibly held the ball on the ground on one of the few occasions where quick ball might have given the Boks a try scoring opportunity. All these were just mistakes by the referee, these things happen, but in the unforgiving climate of Loftus Versveld the crowd took it as a deliberate bias, cheating even!

 

Steyn kicked the penalty after Folau’s indiscretion, and then kicked yet another penalty to leave South Africa 12-10 ahead at half-time.

 

The second half saw Reece Hodge called up to try some more long-range kicks at goal, two in the opening 12 minutes. He missed both.

 

South Africa had lost Bryan Habana to a thigh injury and Jesse Kriel to a groin problem, bringing Willie le Roux on into the right wing position and Lionel Mapoe into outside centre, the first backline player on the field to actually take up his specialist spot! Now Allister Coetzee’s selection decisions came back to haunt him, and all South African supporters. Coetzee had gone with a six forward two back split on his bench, and there was nobody left to replace Rudy Paige when he was concussed in the 58th minute. He had to be replaced by the unlikeliest of scrumhalves, loose forward Willem Alberts.

 

Starting winger Francois Hougaard reverted to his first choice position when he took over from Paige, and Alberts came into the back row with another loose forward, Jaco Kriel, becoming a reluctant winger.

 

Now Morne Steyn tried to extend the Bok lead with a long-range penalty, but it went wide as he put too much into the kick.

 

That was probably the end of the excitement for the afternoon, although diehard fans were ecstatic when Steyn kicked a late penalty and then a final drop goal to ensure the Bok win.

 

Scorers

 

South Africa

Penalties: Morne Steyn (4)

Drop goals: Morne Steyn (2)

 

Australia

Try: Scott Sio

Conversion: Bernard Foley

 

Man of the Match: In a miserable game of rugby there were one or two stand-out performances. Eben Etzebeth was immense in defence and in the lineouts, Francois Louw rediscovered his ball winning abilities on the ground, but is was the captain, Adriaan Strauss, who produced his best game of rugby in almost 12 months. He was physical with the ball in hand, he was strong over the ruck ball, he was big in the scrums, and his lineouts were spot on. He led from the front. For that he gets my vote as Man of the Match.

 

 

Time for a quick look at the Match Stats.

 

South Africa beat Australia by 18 points to 10. Australia scored the only try of the match, converted by Bernard Foley.

 

South Africa kicked four penalty goals, and missed just one, Australia goaled one penalty and missed 3.

 

South Africa’s Morne Steyn kicked two drop goals, the only two in this year’s Rugby Championships so far.

 

Australia enjoyed territorial advantage with 60% over South Africa’s 40%, and the Aussies also had the better of possession 55% to 45%

 

Australia gave away the only yellow card of the game.

 

They also gave away 10 penalties to South Africa’s 8.

 

On the Attack:

 

Australia carried the ball 113 times, making 6 clean breaks, beating 21 defenders, and running 509 meters with the ball in hand.

 

South Africa carried the ball 87 times, making 4 clean breaks, beating 9 defenders, and running 330 meters with the ball in hand.

 

Both teams made 10 offloads, while Australia passed the ball 132 times to South Africa’s 110 passes.

 

On the Ground:

 

South Africa won 10 turnovers and collected 19 loose balls, Australia won 6 turnovers and collected 13 loose balls.

 

On Defence:

 

South Africa made 99 tackles and missed 21 for a poor 82,5% success rate.

 

Australia improved dramatically over their previous couple of weeks, making 91 tackles and missing just 9 for a 91% success rate.

  

Kicking stats:

 

South Africa launched 25 kicks from hand, Australia 18.

 

Tellingly, 18 of those South African kicks were fielded by the Australians, while the Boks fielded 12 of the Aussie kicks.

 

Handling error stats:

 

South Africa improved on previous weeks with a reduced number of handling errors, just 5 knock-ons and 2 forward passes were recorded.

 

The Aussies also improved on their handling stats, with 5 knock-ons of their own and just 1 forward pass noticed by the referee.

 

 

First Phases

 

Both teams won 12 lineouts, but the Boks managed to steal three without conceding any.

 

Neither team conceded a tighthead at scrum time, although South Africa managed to spoil three Aussie scrum balls with pressure.

 

 

 

Player Ratings:

 

15 Patrick Lambie:

 

Looked solid at the back, but a bit rusty. Certainly brought some stability and leadership to the back division, some good kicks, a couple of wayward ones too. 4/10

 

14 Bryan Habana:

 

A mediocre sort of day, in a mostly invisible sort of way. He missed a few tackles. Had one good run with the ball, kicked ahead to chase until shoulder checked by Israel Folau.  4/10

 

13 Jesse Kriel:

 

This kid needs a real inside centre to play off. He got the ball going sideways and stayed sideways most of the time. Made his tackles. 4/10

 

12 Juan de Jongh:

 

Once and for all time, Juan de Jongh is not an inside centre! Being selected in this slot does him no justice. His defence was solid, with better alignment than in previous two games and he had one very good steal on the ground. His distribution to Kriel gives the 13 no running chances. 4/10

 

11 Francois Hougaard:

 

He gets marked up for sheer mongrel and attitude. Tends to get sucked infield by his scrumhalf instincts, which leaves his wing open, but that is the price of being played out of position. Looked good as scrumhalf after Paige left the field. Probably the best Bok back amongst a mediocre lot. 5/10

 

10 Morné Steyn:

 

If we mark Steyn on doing the job he was selected to do, he gets a 6/10. If we mark him as a flyhalf in the modern game, well, I guess it drops to a 2/10. His boot won the match for South Africa, but his kicking game was far from perfect. Too many missed touches, too many kicks fielded by the Aussies. Spent the afternoon in the pocket, which is where he has almost always played his rugby.  Does not get his backline moving with any purpose. Made a couple of very good tackles, especially when he introduced himself to Quade Cooper. 4/10

 

9 Rudy Paige:

 

Whilst Rudy did exactly what was expected of him, there was nothing more than that. His pass off the base and from broken play was snappy and accurate, but there was nothing else to report. He is not a playmaker, just a good link. 5/10

 

8 Warren Whiteley:

 

As we have come to expect, Whiteley made his tackles, time and again. Some very good work in the lineouts too. Carried the ball a couple of times, but lacks the muscularity and physicality of some international 8’s of today. 6/10

 

7 Teboho “Oupa” Mohoje:

 

Much better than two weeks ago, especially on defence, although one tackle started to slip up towards the neck again. Made some good carries, but was mostly invisible over the ruck ball. 4/10

 

6 Francois Louw

 

Where has he been all season? A new haircut and South Africa has a real open-sider in the team again. Superb at the breakdowns, both stealing ball and slowing down Aussie possession. Made some big tackles too. 7/10

 

5 Pieter-Steph du Toit:

 

A quite game from the big guy, did nothing wrong, but there were not as many of his supporting plays out wide than we have become used to. A steady day at the office. 5/10

 

4 Eben Etzebeth:

 

When there is a crucial tackle to be made, you can usually see the big number 4 on the tackler’s back. When you have a crucial lineout ball that you must win, throw it to Etzebeth. If there is a lineout ball to steal, ask Etzebeth and he will give it a full go.  The few times the Boks started to rumble forward with the ball, he was right there. Carried the ball well a couple of times. 6/10

 

3 Vincent Koch:

 

Solid in the scrums, solid in the lineouts, solid in the loose, and more than solid on defence. Made 10 good tackles. Penalised for having a hand on the ground in one of the early scrums, when it was not his hand! 6/10

 

2 Adriaan Strauss (captain):

 

Now where did he suddenly come from? Outstanding game by the captain. He carried the ball strongly and made a number of clean breaks with the ball in hand. He was physical with the ball in hand, he was strong over the ruck ball, he was big in the scrums, and his lineouts were spot on. 8/10

 

1 Tendai “The Beast” Mtawarira:

 

Ho Hum, another day of playing rugby for the Beast. He did what he was supposed to do in the scrums. Actually carried the ball a couple of times, even got over the advantage line twice. And then faded away, again.  Nothing new, nothing exceptional, just plain old prop play. 4/10

 

 

Replacements:

 

 

6 Mbongeni Mbonambi:

 

Not used

 

17 Steven Kitshoff (On for T Mtawarira, 45th min):

 

Strong in the scrums, and getting stronger. Gained ascendancy over his opponent and never let go. Made his tackles, carried the ball when asked to do so, and supported everyone, all the time.  6/10

 

18 Julian Redelinghuys (On for V Koch, 45th min):

 

An uncomfortable man to scrum against, he took over from Koch after the starting prop had softened the Aussie and immediately dominated the scrums. Needs to do a bit more in other areas. 6/10

 

19 Lodewyk de Jager (On for PS du Toit, 45th min):

 

Strangely invisible and ineffectual for a man with his reputation. Just did his job, and nothing more. Ordinary. 4/10

 

20 Willem Alberts (On for R Paige, 57th min):

 

I still do not know why he is in the team. He did his job without flair or anything special. One really massive tackle.  3/10

 

21 Jaco Kriel (On for T Mohoje, 55th min):

 

Cannot really be rated after spending most of his day playing wing. Did his job. Cannot say much more than that. 4/10

 

22 Lionel Mapoe (On for J Kriel, 39th min):

 

Solid, stolid, and ordinary. Made his tackles, had one good run, and then joined the rest of the backline swimming in their pool of custard. 4/10

 

23 Willie le Roux (On for B Habana, 46th min):

 

Thrown into the right wing slot, where even the Cheetahs never gave him a game. Made a good tackle or two, but was invisible out there with zero ball and zero opportunity. A couple of good touch kicks showed his value at the back. 4/10

 

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You are right but like Bill, I could not make out whether Lambie or le Roux was playing fullback or wing such was the melee amongst the SA backs.

It was like watching a massive free for all at WWE.

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Aye, play specialist players in specialist positions. Applies to all sports but for some reason rugby tends to reject it.

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Lumpy Railway Custard. Love that analogy. Thank goodness I never ate any. Still think the Kiwis aren't going to kill us Stu? :15_8_217:

 

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On ‎2016‎/‎10‎/‎04 at 2:05 PM, Mata Hari said:

Lumpy Railway Custard. Love that analogy. Thank goodness I never ate any. Still think the Kiwis aren't going to kill us Stu? :15_8_217:

 

Nope

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I was waiting for someone to pick that up. Only realised what I did after I posted.

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I am reminded of a cricket tour to Pretoria some years ago which involved a train trip.

We went up to play CBC Pretoria which had been arranged by the cousin of one of our guys who played for N. Tvl as it was then. Chris Dey arranged for us to play his team over a Saturday and Sunday and we travelled by train.

When dinner was served in the dining car, such was the interesting conversation at our booth that one of the waiters stopped to listen in. He had just finished serving pud which was a sticky cake with custard.

As he leaned on the back of the booth bench the custard bowl was in his hand resting on the back of the bench. Inadvertently the server was slightly tilted and the custard started to gently dribble onto the shoulder of the guy who was sat just below where he was leaning. We were all in blazers and tie so the victim didn't notice until the steady stream of custard reached his waist.

He screamed (the custard was hot) and leapt to his feet and of course the whole bowl was thrown in the air. Those of us who had been "quietly" observing were also caught in the spray of custard. 

It washed off and no harm done other than a slightly sticky blazer.

 

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