Power performance needed against the English

Nov 19 • General News, International, National, Springbok News, Springboks • 2607 Views • Comments Off on Power performance needed against the English

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Adriaan Strauss doing some weight training in the Springbok camp. Photo by Getty images,

Morgan Piek – The Springboks move South to London in order to face the English at their old fortress, Twickenham after another unconvincing Test this past weekend on their End of Year Tour. Most importantly the Springboks did win the game, however beating an Nation with only 5000 registered Rugby players by 11 points is less than ideal, considering there are 350 000 registered players in South Africa.

Beating the Scots at Murrayfield is always an arduous task despite their lower standing on the IRB World Rankings. As mentioned before a win is a win, however analysing the stats does not make for good reading and the English will be less forgiving than the Scots.

Although the Springboks led the possession count by 55% to 45%,  they lacked in the territory count where the Scots dominated with 57% of the game spent in the South African half. It is a count that simply is not good enough for the number two team in the World.

Discipline is a big concern in South African camp, with yet another yellow card on tour. This happened when Flip van der Merwe received his marching orders for coming in from the side after the referee warned the players numerous times. Apart from the yellow card, the South Africans conceded fourteen penalties as opposed to the Scots eleven. Luckily for the Springboks,  Greig Laidlaw was only successful with one of his two penalty attempts on goal.

The Springboks made 426 metres in runs while the Scots nearly doubled that with 746 metres. Cheetahs captain Adriaan Strauss boasted with the most running metres gained, albeit most of them came via a great intercept try. Strauss managed to notch up his first two Test tries against the Scots.

A lot has been said about the Springboks inability to offload, Saturday was no different when the Boks only managed to offload on three occasions – Francois Louw had two and Willem Alberts one. The Scottish more then tripled that number with ten offloads. Along with linebreaks, offloading is a part of the game in need of some drastic improvement. In eighty minutes of rugby South Africa managed only two linebreaks, one by Ruan Pienaar the other by the captain Jean de Villiers. In hindsight – Scotland only had one.

Ball retention is a cause for some concern; the Springboks started numerous moves, many of them that never went past three phases. In total the Springbok produced a 159 phases, of which only two went up to seven phases. The Scots boasted with a 187 phases with which they went as high as fourteen phases twice.

Defence has been one of few strong points of late and somewhat of a saving grace for the men in Green-and-Gold. The Springboks put in a 125 tackles during the game with 82% of them successful. It in a higher percentage missed that they normally do; however with the shear amount of tackles made, it can be excused. The Scottish put in 66 tackles with an 85% succes rate. Duane Vermeulen put in the most tackles of the game with 16 successful.

The Springbok scrum was fairly good until a both Jannie du Plessis and Gurthro Steenkamp were subbed within minutes of each other. CJ van der Linde and Heinke van der Merwe were totally dominated when they came on, with the pair conceding numerous penalties. It almost looked as if CJ van der Lindes’ feet were too far back; he struggled with the bind as well. This resulted in numerous collapsed scrums.

The South African lineout was as brilliant as usual, with Adriaan Strauss, Eben Eztbeth and Juandré Kruger starting to develop a brilliant understanding. The Springboks won all twelve of their lineout feeds and even managed to steal the ball on a Scottish feed.

The entire 2012 thus far, the Springboks have had nightmares with the number 10 jersey. Patrick Lambie had another less than desirable performance although his set kicks were a little better than against the Irish. With a player such as Lambie it does not help forcing him not to play his natural game. For the second weekend in a row it’s clear that his wings have been clipped and he is looking like more a second-rate Morné Steyn rather than the incredible player we all know he is. In general the Springboks are kicking too much, even worse is that fact that good ball is being put to foot.

The South Africans need to out-muscle the physical English upfront and strike hard with their backline. JP Pietersen is a classy finisher and needs to be used. Francois Hougaard shouldn’t just be used as a defender. Adding Jaco Taute to the starting lineup at fullback will add tremendous striking power to South Africas’ underutilised backline.

A game can be played and won by just using the forwards; however it is senseless playing ten-man rugby. The old rugby adage goes – “The forwards determine who wins the game – the backs determine by how much.”

The Springboks forwards are good enough to beat the English on Saturday. With fifteen-man rugby, Springboks can humiliate the English. Give the Lambies’, the De Jonghs’ and likes of the freedom to play their natural game. Give them the freedom to evolve South African rugby into that brand we all love to watch.

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