Boks are still in with a chance

2014-09-15 00:00

THE Springboks’ narrow 14-10 loss to the All Blacks on Saturday can be looked at in a number of ways.

Being optimistic, the Boks’ performance was a huge improvement from the week before when they went down to the Aussies.

The Boks were dominant in both lineouts and scrums, and that formed the base from which they launched their attacks. It was encouraging to see a drastic drop in aimless kicking and when they did put the ball to boot it was mostly at the right time and in the right places.

Flyhalf Handre Pollard’s elevation to the starting line-up was talked about all week. Some said he would fail dismally, others were cautiously hoping he would have a good game. He did the latter to say the least.

The way in which he attacked the line kept the All Blacks on defence. His kicking out of hand was spot on and nearly faultless and he distributed the ball with fluidity at a greasy Westpac Stadium in Wellington. He never took a step back in defence and made some intelligent and telling spot tackles. He could very well be what they call the “complete package”.

The Boks tore into the All Blacks on defence. The aggression displayed by eighthman Duane Vermeulen made a big difference and showed that getting a physical advantage over the All Blacks is crucial.

The presence of two fetchers on the field in flanks Marcel Coetzee and Francois Louw helped slow down the All Blacks’ typical fast flowing game. Bryan Habana also deserves credit for a number of steals. It seems after his 100th Test last week he is back to just playing the game.

The loss was a dampener on captain Jean de Villiers’ 100th Test. “We need to sharpen up on a couple of things. We probably made too many mistakes off our first phases tonight,” he said.

The result has not put the Rugby Championship out of reach for the Boks. They can only hope that Argentina will cause a huge upset and beat the All Blacks next weekend in La Plata.

That would leave the final match of the Championship as the deciding Test when South Africa host New Zealand at Ellis Park on September 27.

Before that, the Boks will have to beat Australia this weekend in Cape Town.

Other result: Australia 32 - 25 Argentina

P W D L PD Pts

NZ 4 3 1 0 54 16

SA 4 2 0 2 4 10

AUS 4 2 1 1 -23 10

ARG 4 0 0 4 -35 3

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