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Ken Borland



John McFarland Column: Boks nicely set up after job well done 0

Posted on August 30, 2017 by Ken

The Tests against Argentina were a job well done by the Springboks and it’s great to see them at the top of the Rugby Championship log, with things set up nicely for their tour of Australasia.

It’s great to see the Springboks play so convincingly and win five Tests on the bounce, including coach Allister Coetzee’s first away win.

It was a really good win last weekend in Salta and what was most impressive was the all-round game they played.

To win by five tries to two, maintaining their high rate of try-scoring this year, shows that their attacking game is completely on track. Their ability to convert turnover ball into seven points was also superb, as in the crucial second try by Siya Kolisi just after halftime.

It’s never easy in Salta because of the extreme heat and a very passionate crowd, and there was a lot of talk about the effects of travel, but the performance proved that the Springboks used the right schedule. To have two good days of training in Port Elizabeth and Johannesburg before they left for Argentina was a masterstroke and you have to give credit to the coaching staff for their wise planning.

They also did not rush back from Salta, instead having a good day of recovery around the pool, and they will hopefully reap good rewards for that on their trip to Perth. It is, however, a more tricky flight from Perth on the far western side of Australia to Auckland, much longer than flying from the eastern shore. It means the Springboks will probably lose Monday as a training day and will only have Tuesday and Thursday before the All Blacks Test in Albany, which is perhaps a day light in terms of preparation.

The next two weeks are going to be big pressure games for the Springboks. Australia have recovered well, as expected, and the fact they nearly beat the All Blacks in Dunedin proves the margins are so small at the top international level of the game. The Wallabies will be aggrieved they did not win, but they have certainly regained their pride and confidence.

Both New Zealand and Australia are leaking tries at the moment though, nine and 13 respectively in their first two matches, which is a big thing for the Springboks to target.

The Springboks have only conceded four tries and their defence has been vastly improved.

There is not much a defence coach can do about a kickoff that bounces in no-man’s land and subsequently leads to a try, but someone would have called for it and then misjudged the flight of the ball. The players will take responsibility for it and it will be sorted out in the review of the game. The misunderstanding will all be cleared up quickly, especially with the great culture in the team at the moment.

Speaking of great, I thought Elton Jantjies had such a good game.

He knows he’s the number one flyhalf and he’s feeling backed, and his goalkicking has been phenomenal at 89%, which is the most important box for him to tick. But the quality of his all-round play has been excellent – his exits, his awareness of space and the way he has been able to take the ball to the line. He’s attacking with real confidence.

Our wingers are also coping well in the Rugby Championship and the game has moved on from just being about size and kick-and-chase.

That said, the Springboks’ kicking game has also been working well.

The set-pieces have also been brilliant and the scrum has functioned really well. Who would have thought that our scrum would be so dominant in two Tests against Argentina.

The Pumas came out ultra-aggressive and fired up and maybe it was too much because it led to ill-discipline and cards, something that was an issue for the Jaguares all through SuperRugby as well.

There just seems to be one remaining issue with the Springboks and that is the back-up flyhalf situation. Handre Pollard has been named in the touring squad but it is a concern that he has not played any actual rugby.

Obviously he must have been training well and the intensity of the Springbok practices is good, but to be really ready to play, everyone needs some match time behind them. Pat Lambie is in the same boat and they both need game time, but unfortunately their Springbok contracts mean they cannot play any Currie Cup rugby.

It is something that SA Rugby needs to revisit.

 

 

John McFarland is the assistant coach of the Kubota Spears in Japan and was the Springbok defence coach from 2012 through to the 2015 World Cup, where they conceded the least line-breaks in the tournament and an average of just one try per game. Before that, McFarland won three SuperRugby titles (2007, 09, 10) with the Bulls and five Currie Cup crowns with the Blue Bulls. In all, he won 28 trophies during his 12 years at Loftus Versfeld.

West Indies nicely teed up then both openers out 0

Posted on March 02, 2015 by Ken

An opening stand of 72 nicely teed up the West Indies’ reply before both openers were dismissed and they reached lunch on 110 for two on the third day of the first Sunfoil Test against South Africa at SuperSport Park in Centurion on Friday.

Kraigg Braithwaite (34) and Devon Smith (35) were the batsmen who defied the much-vaunted South African pace attack for 21.4 overs in cloudy conditions and it took an extraordinary decision by TV umpire Paul Reiffel for the breakthrough to come.

Vernon Philander had just returned for his second spell when Smith tried to pull a shortish delivery and wicketkeeper AB de Villiers, standing in for Quinton de Kock who rolled an ankle in the warm-up, tumbled to his left to make the take. Faf du Plessis was also off the field due to abdominal cramps.

On-field umpire Billy Bowden turned down the caught-behind appeal that came mostly from Philander and South Africa decided to refer the decision.

Reiffel decided that a flimsy scratch on Snicko could be pinned down to when the ball passed the bat and overturned Bowden’s decision, which left most people watching the replays utterly bemused and the West Indians less than happy.

Braithwaite was then nailed by Philander in his next over, the accurate paceman getting a delivery to nip away, a firm push sending the ball low and to the right of Hashim Amla at first slip, the captain claiming a good catch.

The West Indies were able to go into lunch without further loss though as Leon Johnson hit three fours on his way to 27 not out and Marlon Samuels had scored a watchful six not out.

With South Africa having declared their first innings on 552 for five, the West Indies still need 243 runs to avoid the follow-on.

 http://citizen.co.za/296270/sa-v-west-indies-day-3-lunch/



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