Oz humbly laud Bok heroes

Francois Louw (Gallo Images)
Francois Louw (Gallo Images)
Cape Town – They are fierce rival sporting nations, but Australia magnanimously doffed its collective cap on Sunday in salute of the South African rugby juggernaut at Brisbane.

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Newspapers Down Under, while understandably lamenting a fourth Wallaby defeat in as many matches, did not hide their admiration for the hoodoo-breaking Springboks, who raided Suncorp Stadium for a stunning 38-12 Castle Rugby Championship victory a day earlier.

The theme of articles revolved primarily around the brutality and power of the Bok performance.

“Power is king this year ... changes to the scrum law have enshrined the move towards muscularity,” wrote Paul Cully of the Sydney Morning Herald.

“Strong scrums (are now) able to thrive on their own ball. The Pumas gave the All Blacks a working over at times in Hamilton, and the excellent Springboks simply walked all over the Wallabies on their feed.

“This new set-piece is the game distilled down to its essence: physically dominate or be dominated. The Wallabies do not look ready for it.”

He also lambasted lack of support for Aussie ball-carriers: “It is not news that Francois Louw is an excellent operator over the ball, so when the Wallabies did make ground with an aggressive run, the gap between the carrier and his support was far too big.

“Louw, Eben Etzebeth, Bismarck du Plessis – take your pick – were allowed to feed at will on Australian ball. It’s hard to shift these big men at the best of times; impossible if there aren’t enough numbers, with enough aggression, to do it.”

Cully’s regular Rugby Championship team of the week, based on Saturday’s matches in Hamilton and Brisbane, tellingly did not feature a single Wallaby, as 10 Boks and five All Blacks – these unbeaten foes now lock horns at Eden Park this Saturday – cracked his nod.

The team was: Zane Kirchner (SA), Willie le Roux (SA), Conrad Smith (NZ), Jean de Villiers (SA), Bryan Habana (SA), Morne Steyn (SA), Aaron Smith (NZ), Kieran Read (NZ), Francois Louw (SA), Steven Luatua (NZ), Sam Whitelock (NZ), Eben Etzebeth (SA), Jannie du Plessis (SA), Bismarck du Plessis (SA), Beast Mtawarira (SA).

Meanwhile Jim Tucker of Brisbane’s Sunday Mail wrote: “Awful ... the Wallabies nosedived to an embarrassing record loss to South Africa that became more one-sided than the Federal election.

“The Wallaby forwards were belted on Saturday night, bullied at the breakdown on so many occasions by a more physical, technically superior pack.

“The Springboks, led by Francois Louw, simply lined up the gold jerseys, knocked them down and fleeced the ball.”
Wayne Smith of national paper The Australian added: “The South Africans know themselves and their game very well indeed.

“Their check-in luggage (onward to Auckland) today doesn’t include the Mandela Plate which won’t be decided until after the return match in Cape Town later this month but it almost seemed the South Africans have pledged to reclaim it while the frail man after whom the trophy was named still lives.”

*Follow our chief writer on Twitter: @RobHouwing
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