5 talking points: Wales v Springboks

Warrick Gelant (Gallo Images)
Warrick Gelant (Gallo Images)

Cape Town - Sport24’s Herman Mostert highlights FIVE talking points following the Springboks’ 24-22 defeat to Wales in Cardiff:

1. Sorry Toetie, 44% just doesn’t cut it

Saturday’s defeat in Cardiff left Springbok coach Allister Coetzee with only 11 wins in 25 Tests.

He has a win mandate of 65% and should get the boot when SA Rugby’s top brass meet later this month.

Wins against mediocre French, Argentinian and Italian outfits should not be used as a barometer for progress, as Coetzee afterwards claimed the team had made in 2017.

2. Aerial frailties

The Springboks’ inability to handle high balls allowed Wales to race into a 14-0 lead after only eight minutes.

Several players were at fault - not only the back three - as it put the Boks on the back foot from the outset.

This has been an issue throughout the season and improvements were clearly not made.

Wales flyhalf Dan Biggar pulled the strings to great effect as he had the Springbok backs scampering - mostly to no avail - for much of the first half.

3. Boks solid up front

After the initial Wales onslaught, the Springboks gradually took control largely due to a superior effort up front.

The Bok scrum, with Steven Kitshoff at the forefront, had the Welsh in reverse gear and the Springbok driving maul also proved effective.

Apart from one wayward lineout throw, hooker Malcolm Marx was again instrumental. He impressed with his link play, support running, driving and again proved a menace at the breakdowns.

The South Africans won several turnovers and the foundation laid up front should have been enough to secure victory.

The Boks also conceded only three penalties - compared to Wales’ 10 - but unfortunately lacked composure when it mattered most.

4. Did Marx score?

The Bok hooker thought he had scored his side’s first try in the 19th minute when he went over after a dominating lineout drive.

However, French referee Jerome Garces couldn’t see a grounding and referred the decision upstairs to Rowan Kitt, the television match official (TMO) from England.

Kitt said he couldn’t see a grounding and instructed the referee to give the Springboks a five metre scrum - from which they could not score.

Looking at Marx’s reaction, one had reason to assume it was a try, but on TV replays it was tough to spot a clear grounding.

In this scenario the referee should perhaps have asked the TMO: "Can you give me any reason to not award the try?"...

5. Coetzee’s selections under the spotlight

The Bok coach’s selections have often come under scrutiny during his tumultuous two-year reign.

Saturday was no different as Coetzee again raised some serious questions about his ability to make the right selection calls.

His decision to play Warrick Gelant - normally a fullback - at left wing backfired. Gelant didn’t know how to position himself and it cost the Boks. It’s not the player’s fault as it’s clear he was not instructed properly about where to position himself.

The coach’s continued backing of Andries Coetzee at fullback baffles many, while his persistence with Ross Cronje at scrumhalf should also be questioned.

Cronje’s lack of pace is just too evident at Test level.

Then, the Bok mentor’s decision to substitute Handre Pollard with Elton Jantjies was hard to understand.

After a shaky start, Pollard started to take control of matters in the second half and during his short stint Jantjies made two crucial knock-ons with the Boks in promising positions.

It’s no wonder renowned Welsh rugby writer Stephen Jones wrote the following in the Sunday Times of Coetzee’s decision to bring Jantjies on in the final 10 minutes: “It was one of the most catastrophic coaching decisions of the decade when Pollard was taken off with the match in the balance and the fallible Jantjies came on for about 10 minutes of blundering.”

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