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Ken Borland



Failure to pitch a recipe for disaster for Boks 0

Posted on February 01, 2017 by Ken

 

Meeting a fired-up Argentina team on their home turf is never an easy prospect, regardless of what happened the previous week, so when the Springboks decided not to “pitch” physically for their Rugby Championship Test in Mendoza at the weekend, it was always going to be a recipe for disaster.

For whatever reason, the Springboks failed to match the intensity and physicality of the Pumas and for long periods it just looked as if they weren’t “up” for the game.

With Argentina attacking the collisions and breakdowns with tremendous ferocity, it meant the Springboks were always on the back foot and had little decent ball to actually launch the attacking side of their game, which had been so impressive the weekend before back in Johannesburg.

The Springboks eventually won the Test 22-17 with two late penalties by Morne Steyn, but it was hardly an authoritative performance. The massive physicality that had blown the Pumas away at the FNB Stadium and set up the record 73-13 victory a week earlier was as absent this weekend as the president of the South African Rugby Union.

The home side pressed forward from the outset and, after robbing scrumhalf Ruan Pienaar of possession at a ruck – he endured a torrid day as he was hassled throughout at the breakdowns – they scored the opening try through flank Juan Manuel Leguizamon after just two minutes.

It meant the Pumas’ prayers were answered in terms of getting their passionate crowd behind them and they enjoyed a 10-3 lead after 10 minutes as Felipe Contepomi and Steyn traded penalties.

Centre Contepomi was then partly to blame for the Springboks’ only try, in the 14th minute, as he failed with a clearance kick, gifting the ball to the Springbok backs. Willie le Roux – he didn’t have the best of games overall – then showed tremendous hands to put wing Bjorn Basson away for the try.

But the Springboks’ hopes were severely dented just before half-time when centre Marcelo Bosch crashed through to score Argentina’s second try.

The Pumas had generally tried to avoid lineouts – a Springbok strength – in the first half, but eventually they had one inside the 22, only the third of the match. From there, another direct attack with short pop passes led to Bosch powering over.

The Argentine loose forwards continued to rob and spoil the Springboks’ ball in the second half and their more direct approach with ball-in-hand also hurt the South Africans. But there is something almost naive about this Springbok side in that they sometimes give the impression that they expect the opposition to be placid, to allow them an easy stroll through a game. And so not enough numbers were committed to the breakdowns or the defence close-in and the Pumas were adept at exploiting the gap in the first channel from the ruck.

The Springboks were, frankly, being bullied and they even sought referee Steve Walsh’s attention, alleging eye-gouging and biting. Two Argentinean loose forwards, Leonardo Senatore and Pablo Matera, would later be cited for foul play, but the whistleman’s focus during the match seemed to be on all sorts of peripheral things rather than keeping the breakdown contest tidy and enforcing offsides lines.

The Pumas’ ill-discipline was eventually punished by Walsh, allowing Steyn to kick four second-half penalties that won the game.

Questions, though, will be asked over some of coach Heyneke Meyer’s decisions, such as leaving the struggling Pienaar on for the entire game or not giving the more physical Flip van der Merwe a longer run in the second row.

But it’s the failure of the Springboks to lift themselves – having spoken all week about how they expect the Pumas to bounce back ferociously – that is perhaps of most concern.

They will now travel to Australasia next weekend for their two Tests against the Wallabies and the All Blacks and they are not going to win those unless their pack rediscovers the fire they showed at the FNB Stadium.

The Springbok backline are not going to be able to win those Tests on their own; the forwards are going to have to do the gruntwork and lay the foundation.

https://www.dailymaverick.co.za/article/2013-08-26-rugby-boks-win-but-without-conviction/#.WJHMPVN97IU

Misfortune of Rossouw the joy of De Bruyn 0

Posted on December 16, 2016 by Ken

 

The continued misfortune of Rilee Rossouw has turned out to be the joy of Theunis de Bruyn, with the Knights captain called up to the South African Test squad for the first time on Wednesday, ahead of the three-Test series against Sri Lanka which starts on Boxing Day.

Rossouw, who toured Australia without playing in any of the Tests, has been ruled out of action by another foot injury and his place in the squad has been taken by uncapped Knights team-mate De Bruyn.

The tall 24-year-old has been considered an obvious future international for the last three seasons, boasting an impressive first-class average of 48.73 with six centuries in 32 matches including a double for  SA A against the England Lions. Convenor of selectors Linda Zondi told The Citizen that De Bruyn is considered a future star of all three formats.

“Theunis a good talent and has done well for both his franchise and SA A. Obviously we aren’t pleased with Rilee’s injury because he’s the next batsman in line, and Stiaan van Zyl would probably also have been in line had he not signed a Kolpak deal, but Theunis is next in the pecking order. It’s good to get him into the set-up because we definitely see him as a future star for the Proteas, playing in all the formats,” Zondi said.

“It’s obviously very disappointing for Rilee, I spoke to him in Australia and he really wants to do well for South Africa and was very happy with the way we backed him in the ODIs. He’s obviously an exceptional player and he will still do well in the future for South Africa and contribute immensely going forward because it’s still a long season ahead and he’s definitely still in our plans.”

Because the Proteas are now back on home soil, the squad has been reduced to 13 players, with Wayne Parnell the fast bowler called in to replace the injured Morne Morkel and Dale Steyn. Wrist-spinner Tabraiz Shamsi, all-rounder Dwaine Pretorius and reserve wicketkeeper Dane Vilas are no longer part of the squad.

The likelihood of De Bruyn making his debut will depend on whether captain Faf du Plessis escapes a ban from his appeal for ball-tampering on Monday, but just being in camp with the Test team will be of immense benefit to the development of the elegant right-hander.

“Even if he doesn’t make the starting XI, he’s going to gain more experience and fitting into those surroundings and the culture of the team will only enhance his belief that he will be able to fit in at international level,” Zondi said.

http://www.pressreader.com/south-africa/the-citizen-kzn/20161215/282209420496484

The space is there, Boks need to be more patient – Stick 0

Posted on June 15, 2016 by Ken

 

The space is there, but the Springboks need to be more patient when utilising it, Mzwandile Stick, the backline coach, said on Tuesday ahead of the crucial second Test against Ireland at Ellis Park on Saturday.

South Africa managed to lose the first Test against Ireland despite playing against 14 men for an hour, with the extra space available to them being wasted by one-dimensional, frenetic efforts to just fling the ball wide as quickly as possible, thereby allowing the hardworking Irish defence to merely fan across and isolate the attackers out wide.

“The problem is not creating space, the space was there, the problem was how we managed it. Everyone got too excited, everyone wanted to be in that space and sometimes guys were even a bit selfish about it. We needed to do the hard work first and punch through the middle and then take the ball wide,” Stick said after training on Tuesday.

“As a team, we failed to manage the game well, we rushed things and we need to be more patient. Sometimes we played too much rugby in our own half and then the energy levels of the players ran out.”

While the forwards at least ensured the Springboks won the possession and territory stats against Ireland (57% in both cases), Stick acknowledged that the pack also needed to do more when it came to laying the sort of dominant platform that allows the backline to flourish.

“We knew Ireland would take us on physically and I must compliment them on doing their homework and they dominated the set-pieces. We need to focus on the collisions and make sure that we are dominant in them,” Stick said.

Lwazi Mvovo was the star player on the day in the Springbok backline and Stick said the Sharks wing’s well-taken try off a deft inside ball from Elton Jantjies was one of the few positives from the game.

“Lwazi looked dangerous when he had the ball and that try put a smile on my face because it was executed very well. Damian de Allende also ran a very good line and I’m not sure about those pundits who said it was obstruction. It’s one of our strike moves and my job is to give the guys the freedom to play and create options for them.

“The key is to try and create those moments, create an environment in which the players can express themselves and plans to complement their qualities,” Stick said.



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