Rugby Championship

Bok defensive flaws leave coach Nienaber mystified after heavy Wallabies defeat

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Jacques Nienaber. (Photo by Richard Huggard/Gallo Images)
Jacques Nienaber. (Photo by Richard Huggard/Gallo Images)
  • Springbok coach Jacques Nienaber was mystified at how their famed defensive system was being picked apart in two games against the Wallabies.
  • The Wallabies scored four tries in their 30-17 Rugby Championship win against the Springboks in Brisbane on Saturday.
  • There were plenty of missed tackles and bad defensive reads that allowed Australia to coast to a deserved win.

The Springboks' unflattering defensive performance in their 30-17 loss to the Wallabies in Brisbane on Saturday left their coach Jacques Nienaber wondering whether it was either personnel, system, or a combined error.

In making 69 tackles while dominating territory and possession, the Boks also missed 20, including two early glaring errors by flyhalf Handre Pollard.

They led to the two early tries scored by Wallaby midfielder Len Ikitau, while a bad defensive read on the blindside later in the game allowed Marika Koroibete to score Australia's fourth try.

Nienaber didn't point fingers at any missed individual tackles, but said the system can be easily compromised by an individual who misses a regulation tackle.

"A defensive system is there to put a defender across to an attacker, but you have to make the tackle," Nienaber said.

"No system can make the tackle, you have to make the tackle and when you look at past stats, they don't miss those tackles.

"In this game they did, and those tackles weren't difficult. There was one where I thought there was a system failure, like their last try. It was something that we knew was coming and the re-organisation on the blindside was the error.

"A system error is something we can fix, but when it comes to one on one tackles, those have to be made and that's my job."

The tackle error rate did leave Nienaber, a defensive specialist, mortified, from where he said it was easily their worst defensive performance since 2018.

"If I show you the tackle stats of the squad since 2018, this was an unheard of performance in terms of missed tackles. It never happens like that," Nienaber said.

"If each player misses one tackle in a game, that's 23 tackles and I think that's what happened in this game."

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