Springboks Beat The Wallabies in Port Elizabeth: Key Thoughts

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Springboks beat the Wallabies
The Springboks celebrate their victory over the Wallabies in Port Elizabeth. Photo Credit: SA Rugby

A crowd of 41 000 spectators witnessed the Springboks beat the Wallabies in their Rugby Championship match in Port Elizabeth on Saturday.

Springboks Beat The Wallabies

The scorers for both teams can be viewed here.

A game of two halves

The Springboks dominated the first half, yet seemed to take their foot off the pedal in the second half and allowed the Wallabies to play themselves back into the game. In that first half, the Springboks created a number of opportunities which they were unable to convert into points. Head Coach Rassie Erasmus highlighted this in the post-match press conference.

“I think tonight we created more chances than we did against New Zealand and if we had converted some of those the game would have gone very differently.”

Faf de Klerk
Springbok Scrumhalf Faf de Klerk celebrates his try against the Wallabies in their Rugby Championship match in Port Elizabeth. Photo Credit: SA Rugby
Springbok defense

In the second half, the Springboks reverted to their “do or die” defensive mindset that they used to overcome the All Blacks in Wellington a few weeks ago. This is admirable and showed the team is starting to build a strong character. To the Springboks credit they kept the Wallabies scoreless in the second half, but could only add three points themselves. There is a concern though that if this becomes the Springboks default play, they will be caught out by a more precise attacking team than the Wallabies.

“In the second half we didn’t play well but we showed a lot of character once again,” said Erasmus.

What did work for the Springboks was their dominance in the tackle. Driving the Wallabies ball carriers backwards. Under-fire Wallabies Head Coach Michael Cheika admitted to this after the game.

“We didn’t manage the physical contest, but we still managed to create opportunities. But we just didn’t take them.”

Pieter-Steph du Toit once again headed the tackle count for the Springboks with 17, followed by Franco Mostert and Andre Esterhuizen on 13 each.

Handre Pollard
Springbok flyhalf Handre Pollard in action against the Wallabies in the Rugby Championship match played in Port Elizabeth. Photo Credit: SA Rugby
Springbok kicking accuracy

The Springboks rely heavily on Faf de Klerk’s kicking game from the base of the scrum or ruck to bring their chasers into the game. De Klerk was not as accurate as he has been recently, allowing the Wallabies back three to run at the Springboks. There is also a real concern that should De Klerk be injured or unavailable, who could take over this role? Do the likes of Ross Cronje, Ivan van Zyl and Embrose Papier have an adequate kicking game?

Wallabies decision making

Not a lot has been said of the Wallabies decision making. Those questioning the use of Kurtley Beale ahead of Bernard Foley at flyhalf may just have a point. Beale’s choice to throw a high, floating pass out wide in the opening minute of the game instead of hoofing it upfield was costly. Springbok wing Ampiwe Dyantyi gleefully intercepted that pass to score the first try within 30 seconds.

The Wallabies tried to spread the ball wide and often it was frenetic and unsuccessful. The Springboks rushed and physical defense more often than not snuffed out any attacking intent. There was very little in terms of short or grubber kicks from the Wallabies backs, so the advancing Springbok defensive line could continue to rush up without being concerned about being turned around.

The final round of Rugby Championship 2018

The All Blacks have already wrapped up the tournament for 2018. They travel to South Africa to take on the Springboks, who would like nothing more to chalk up two wins out of two against them in 2018. The Wallabies face a tricky encounter with Los Pumas in Argentina.

Quotations, stats and pics courtesy of SA Rugby.

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