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Ken Borland

Springboks bounce back from 1st-half frustrations

Posted on August 15, 2022 by Ken

First-half frustrations

The Springboks put on a wretched first-half display as they returned to playing in front of a capacity crowd at home. And they only grew more frustrated as the Wales pack, splendidly cohesive and determined, stymied their rolling mauls and stood up in the collisions. The home side barely fired a shot despite enjoying enough territory and possession. The maul – largely nullified by Wales – and speculative kicks seemed to be their only attacking weapons.

Elton Jantjies had a particularly poor time. His kicks out of hand were often miscued, including one penalty that went touch-in-goal. He also missed a couple of shots at goal and spilled the ball that led to Rees-Zammit’s second try.

Wales, on the other hand, were clinical in punishing whatever mistakes the Springboks made in their own half, with rampant wing Louis Rees-Zammit scoring twice.

Back from the dead, impetus from the bench

Trailing 3-18 at halftime and wondering where their next points would come from, the Springboks certainly came out with fire in their bellies, no doubt after a roasting from coach Jacques Nienaber.

Their maul was revitalised thanks to greater purpose, but especially because they introduced some variation with peels off the side to split the Welsh defence.

Willie le Roux had replaced Elton Jantjies from the start of the second half and brought some direction to the backline. But the real difference came up front where the bomb squad forwards came on and smashed. The lift in intensity was palpable and debutant Elrigh Louw made a storming run into the shadow of the poles to help set up Cheslin Kolbe’s crucial try.

Dependable Damian, desperate Dan

With Jantjies off, South Africa did not really have an ace goalkicker on the field for the second half, but Damian Willemse stepped up admirably. Solid in general play at fullback and then rotating well with Le Roux at flyhalf, as well as providing some slick attacking touches, Willemse kicked two conversions, including one from the touchline, which was crucial in a tight game.

Never mind his moment of glory, stepping up to take the angled penalty after the final hooter that won the game and spared the Springboks’ blushes after they conceded a maul try to a pack that had two forwards in the sin-bin.

This year has seen the talented Willemse blossom as a highly dependable performer.

Wales captain Dan Biggar, by comparison, had an evening that rivalled Jantjies’ for awfulness. He seemed to be having a running battle through the match with the Springboks and the referee, was yellow-carded in the second half, and then it was his deliberate knock-on which gave South Africa their matchwinning penalty.

Wiese: Prim and powerful

Eighthman Jasper Wiese was a deserved man of the match. One of the few Springboks to shine in their disjointed first half, he was a phenomenal ball-carrier, averaging four metres per carry, and made some crunching tackles. It was also most pleasing that all his ferocity did not come at the cost of his discipline. Wiese has conceded several penalties in the past, but on Saturday night he was prim and proper and kept his nose clean.

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