Springboks / 23 September 2018, 3:50pm / Wynona Louw
The Springboks’ recent 23-18 Rugby Championship defeat to Australia in Brisbane wasn’t a pretty sight. It was littered with mistakes, individual errors in particular, and was a match the South Africans never should have lost, but didn’t deserve to win.
The Wallabies’ performance was nothing special either, but it was enough to secure the win and enough for coach Rassie Erasmus’s men to plunge further into desperation mode (although they did more than enough to lessen - in fact, almost eradicate - the panic when they beat the All Blacks 36-34 in Wellington a week later).
So, as the Boks prepare to host the Wallabies at Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium on Saturday (5.05pm kick-off) for the return Test, we look at five ways they can get even with Michael Cheika’s side.
1. Same defence, but less of it
The Boks’ defensive effort against New Zealand at the Westpac Stadium was a monstrous one.
They made over 200 tackles, and the way they managed to put the All Blacks under pressure with that defence was the biggest contributor to their post-match celebrations.
And while it can be argued they have found the formula to beating the Kiwis again, and they should stick to what worked in Wellington, you can’t defend for 80 minutes.
The Boks looked good when they strung together pieces of attack and got the ultimate reward for it through a few stunning tries. Besides, the way the All Blacks dominated possession and territory forced the Boks into that defensive role, and it’s a test they passed.
But come the Wallabies in PE, there should be more of a balance. The Springboks should continue with that rock-solid defence, but also use the attacking arsenal they have to run in the tries.
Like they did against New Zealand when they had the chance, but more of it.
2. Aphiwe Dyantyi: more of the same
The electric winger has been a massive revelation in the green and gold this year.
After only seven Tests, he has already done enough to indicate he can be well on his way to rugby greatness should he continue on his early international path and fine-tune one or two aspects of his game.
The tries he scored against New Zealand were crucial, and it’s the way in which he crossed the tryline that made it even more special.
He has proven himself to be a potent finisher and a gem on attack in general, and he should be set free in PE.
He should just do more of the same. Sure, every single player on the pitch needs to do his job, but wouldn’t it be superb to see more of Dyantyi’s magic?
3. Get the set-piece right
If ever we needed an example of why it’s crucial to get your set-piece right, we need only look at that Brisbane horror in which a disastrous Bok line-out malfunction gifted Australia a chance to pounce and ultimately score a try through Matt Toomua.
It emphasised everything that could go wrong if you don’t get it right, and it was also another worrying display in what had become almost a series of questionable line-out performances by the Boks.
So it’s certainly an area which has to run smoothly next weekend, not only to prevent something like that from happening again, but also to launch attacks from early on.
4. Hit those targets
Ah, if anybody can relay the importance of converting your tries, it’s Beauden Barrett and his team.
Sure, there are worse things in rugby than failing to hit the black dot, but the ‘what-ifs’ and ‘if-onlys’ the All Blacks - and Barrett in particular - must have been left with after hitting only two out of six against the Boks cannot be a very pleasant post-match feeling.
So, whoever starts at 10 for the Boks must, amongst all his other tasks, make sure of this one.
Maybe it was belief that fuelled the the Boks’ determination and effort against the All Blacks when no one gave them much of a chance - what else could spark such an effort when your backs are against the wall? Regardless of how big a role it played in New Zealand, it should play a role in PE as well.
Sure, it’s not the same kind of pressure, but it certainly can’t do any harm.