JOHANNESBURG - FOR just over 70 minutes, the Springboks relentlessly bombed the All Blacks into submission, executing a highly tactical kicking game, that although frustrating to watch at times, had the South Africans within a whisker of beating their old foes.
In the end, it was not the game plan that resulted in the narrowest of defeats, but rather some poor decision-making and game-management in the final 10 minutes that was arguably too reliant, too set in stone, and too instinctive to fall back upon when perhaps playing in the moment and what was in front of the Boks was the better option.
There is very little reason to believe that this approach will change this Saturday against the All Blacks in the return match of the Rugby Championship at Cbus Stadium on the Gold Coast (kick-off 12pm). If it is to result in a different outcome this weekend, however, then it is easier to expect that the Boks will be concentrating much more this week on their judgement in those tight exchanges and the closing moments of the match.
It was certainly a point of order that Bok forwards coach Deon Davids alluded to yesterday in a media briefing ahead of the match.
Said Davids: “We have looked in decisions at some stages in terms of what happened. Things happen and there are different reasons why things went wrong. It has to do with communication and then also being able to make that split second decision based on what you see in front of you.
“We would have learnt lessons from that.”
The Boks kicked 38 times during the 19-17 loss at the Queensland Country Bank Stadium, over double that of the New Zealanders. Gamedriver Faf de Klerk accounted for 19 of those kicks, one more than all the kicks by the All Blacks.
From an armchair view, it exasperated many supporters, and towards the end of the 100th Test match, it was not the correct option to take with the Boks enjoying a measure of control and dominance.
Head coach Jacques Nienaber names his matchday 23 today, but Davids remained sceptical there would be any major changes to the selection policy. Indeed, the Boks will want to finish the tournament on a high-note and also end a three-match losing streak that includes two losses to the Wallabies.
“We will look at different things in terms of where we are, what we are trying to achieve and how things look regarding the bigger picture going forward,” said Davids of the possibility of playing the squads younger and fringe players in the starting XV.
“When you play against a team like New Zealand and when looking back at this game where we lost the game in the last minute, if we had won in the last minute, it would have put the team (and selection) in a different situation.
“We have got to ask ourselves a few questions in terms of what is necessary for us to get a good result and also in terms of where we are and what we are building towards.”
Meanwhile, the only injury concern in the Bok squad is that of Marco van Staden.
The loose-forward hurt his shoulder during the loss and did not participate in training yesterday.