Springbok win over Japan: 5 points to ponder

Faf de Klerk
Faf de Klerk

Cape Town - Sport24's Herman Mostert highlights FIVE talking points following South Africa’s 26-3 Rugby World Cup quarter-final win over Japan in Tokyo:

1. Bok pack demolished Japan

Call their game plan boring, but the Springboks' win was built on a dominant performance up front.

The Bok pack laid the foundation for the victory as they eventually sucked the life out of Japan.

Coach Rassie Erasmus' game plan proved effective in keeping the game a slow as possible and not playing to fast-paced Japan's strengths.

Japan looked dangerous at times in the first half, but eventually ran out of puff against a staunch Springbok defence.

Apart from one lost scrum when they were down to seven forwards, the Boks dominated this set piece and also won all 10 of their own lineouts, while stealing five of Japan's 13.

2. Man-of-the-match Faf grabs attention

Bok scrumhalf Faf de Klerk may have received the official man-of-the-match award but it was his excessive use of the box kick that riled up many a Springbok fan.

To his credit, De Klerk did some good things - he scored a try after a dominant Springbok maul, set up Makazole Mapimpi's first try by going blindside at a scrum and defended like a Trojan throughout - but his kicks from the base caused somewhat of a stir on social media.

De Klerk is clearly under instruction to do so, but one feels his execution needs to improve.

In the semi-finals - and a possible final - the Springboks cannot afford to kick away so much well-earned possession.

3. Beast lucky to see only yellow?

Many pundits felt Springbok prop Tendai "Beast" Mtawarira was a tad lucky to only receive a yellow card for a tip tackle on Japanese prop Keita Inagaki in the 10th minute.

I felt English referee Wayne Barnes made the right call because Inagaki did not fall on his head.

The following tweet perhaps summed the incident quite well:

One thing is certain, a red card for Mtawarira would have changed the whole complexion of the match...

4. Food for thought at fullback...

The erratic performance of Springbok fullback Willie le Roux may prompt coach Rassie Erasmus to rethink his selection at the back.

Le Roux had a terrible first half, with his passing and handling letting him down badly, while he also looked shaky under the high ball.

To his credit, Le Roux improved in the second stanza but he'll need to up his game ahead of the semi-final against Wales.

Le Roux is an experienced campaigner and will play his 60th Test if he gets picked for the semi-final, but one wonders whether Erasmus will ponder over the possible inclusion of either Warrick Gelant, Frans Steyn or Damian Willemse in the No 15 jumper.

READ Rob Houwing's take - Boks in semi: Can they risk wonky Willie?

5. A Bok standout

He has copped some flak in recent times for being one dimensional, but I thought Springbok centre Damian de Allende was a standout player at Tokyo Stadium on Sunday.

The inside centre was South Africa's go-to ball carrier - his nine carries the most of any Springbok -  and also racked up an impressive 14 tackles.

De Allende fits the type of game style the Boks want to employ and will prove a handful for the Welsh.

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