Cape Town - Sport24’s Herman Mostert highlights FIVE talking points following the Springboks’ 64-0 Rugby World Cup win over the USA in London.
1. Dominant Bok scrum
They may not have faced the most feared opposition, but the Springbok scrum was a thing of beauty at the Olympic Stadium on Wednesday night.
They had the Americans going back at a rate of knots, with Frans Malherbe particularly impressive.
Jannie du Plessis may find it tough to regain his starting spot at tighthead, as former Bok coach Nick Mallett noted afterwards: “The big question mark is whether Jannie du Plessis is going to start, or is Frans Malherbe going to start. He was very impressive when he was on the field.”
Bok wing Bryan Habana’s hat-trick saw him equal All Black great Jonah Lomu’s try-scoring record (15) at Rugby World Cups.
He could have had four had he not lost control of the ball with the tryline begging, but the veteran wing’s form is improving by the game in this tournament.
He competed fiercely in the air, while his sheer appetite and awareness need to be lauded.
With JP Pietersen out and Lwazi Mvovo starting, Habana moved to right wing - a position I feel he should always have played considering he mostly runs with the ball in the right hand. On the left wing he often can’t shove off the opposition carrying the ball in the wrong hand...
3. Discipline, errors still an issue for Boks
As was the case in the game against Scotland, the Springboks conceded 11 penalties (rugbyworldcup.com).
It halted their momentum in the first half, while crucial errors on attack also prevented the Boks from taking the game away from America in the first half.
They won’t get as many opportunities against more esteemed opposition in the quarter-finals and a failure to capitalise could prove fatal.
Mallett rightly noted afterward: “It’s difficult to make a judgement on this performance because the first half was disappointing, we were very inaccurate, and in the second half we bludgeoned them to death. They were out-scrummed, out-tackled and they hardly had the ball.”
4. Boks keeping their structure
The Springboks deserve credit for keeping their structure throughout the game. They did not let things get loose to allow the Americans to drag them down to their level.
It’s pretty clear what game plan Meyer is going to employ for the rest of the tournament and being conservative does not mean that you won’t be able to score tries.
Taking care of your set-pieces, kicking well tactically and sound defence all lead to good structured play. It eventually broke down the Americans and the Boks will continue on this trend form the remainder of the tournament.
Malherbe may have had a stellar scrummaging performance, but he is being accused in the British press for seemingly biting an American opponent.
A Daily Mail photographer captured the Springbok tighthead with his mouth over the shoulder of American lock Matt Trouville.
The article accompanying the picture questions whether Malherbe had sunk his teeth into Trouville.
When shown the photograph, Trouville told team USA officials he could not recall the incident, while a spokesperson for the Boks also said he was not aware of it and no citing has been issued.
This writer feels the picture may be a bit misleading, and let's hope for Malherbe's sake that it is.
Biting is a serious offence. Former Springbok prop Johan le Roux bit All Black hooker Sean Fitzpatrick’s ear in a Test in 1994 and was subsequently banned for 18 months.