Springboks vs England series wrap
So the English test series is now done and dusted, with the result two wins to the Springboks, with the third Test ending in a disappointing draw.
The English, coming off a relatively successful Six Nations tournament, came to South Africa expecting a positive series result.
They would have considered the first Test as their best opportunity to catch the new coach Heyneke Meyer and new combinations cold.
Realistically one win would have meant a positive result seeing that they are playing away from home. I think they most definitely should feel very proud of their performance when you consider it is not only a young team but also a rather inexperienced squad.
The Springboks on the other hand should not be too positive about their performances. My biggest concern about the new era for Springbok rugby had to do with the game plan and after seeing glimpses of the Boks going wide and running onto the ball at pace during the first Test, making numerous offloads in the tackle making meters at a time, I expected the following Tests to show more of this.
In the second match we started with the best 25 minutes of rugby I have seen the Springboks play since Nick Mallet, alas only to fall back into pedantic, slow and unimaginative play for the rest of the match.
Granted they finished when the pressure was on with a try started and finished by JP Pietersen.
During the week prior to this Test, Heyneke Meyer and Jean de Villiers said in the media that the Springboks had a very good week of preparation, well it seems perhaps there were too much preparation as the players looked very lackluster in the initial period of this test.
Sadly, this continued right throughout the match and it was clear that the forward pack was nowhere near the intensity needed at this level. They allowed the English free reign to commit as many numbers as they needed to the breakdowns and even after repeated warnings from Steve Walsh to the English, the Boks still didn’t realise that they need to front up and not allow the English forwards to slow our ball down.
What was extremely disappointing from the third Test was the proof once again that Morne Steyn has but no creativity when it is most needed. Why is he still kicking possession away when it is most needed in the last few minutes of the match? Heyneke Meyer will have to get rid of him. The reason why Morne Steyn has been retained in the Springbok jumper has been purely for the reason of kicking us to victory in the 2009 British and Irish Lions tour and the Tri Nations.
This is not a knee jerk reaction from me, it is the reality of the situation. It is not only me, when 45,000 fans start booing your kicking it is time that you, the coach and every part of the management team realise that South African fans have had enough of this tactic.
Lets look at his kicking stats for the series. Steyn missed 25 points with the boot vs England who only missed nine.
Now considering that the reason why he is primarily in the team is his kicking, a 62% ratio is simply not good enough, especially when considering Patrick Lambie is not only a better attacking option, but has kicked better than Steyn this year.
Why then is he still the incumbent flyhalf?
Lets face reality, we didn’t deserve to draw this third Test. England played with more gusto, more intensity, better running options and was it not for some last ditch tackles, and a number of unforced errors, we would have lost this test.
Be sure that Australia and New Zealand will not make the same mistakes as England.
The frustrating thing is we saw what we can do, we know what we are capable of. Now if Heyneke Meyer believes we were only 10% of where we want to be, then the bad news is we dipped back to 2% after this performance, so it is back to the drawing board.
Beast Matwarira: Decent at scrumtime, missed a few tackles, didn’t make many meters with ball in hand and not enough intensity from what we are used to. 6/10
Bismarck du Plessis: If it is at all possible to play yourself out of form in the space of one week then Bismarck has managed to do that, his line out throws were poor, he looked lost without his buddy Willem Alberts and in general didn’t perform well at all. 5/10
Jannie du Plessis: Decent at scrumtime, average at best. 6/10
Juandre Kruger: Had a decent line out performance in the first half and stole one lineout, not his best game of the series overall. 6/10
Eben Etzebeth: Decent in the lins outs, stole a line out, but can someone please tell this young man to offload the bloody ball, what is the use you are strog enough to stay o your feet but the allow yourself to be isolated because your teammates are waiting for the pass and not focusing on hitting the ruck. 5/10
Marcell Coetzee: Industrious but cannot do it on his own. 7/10
Jacques Potgieter: No thanks. 4/10
Pierre Spies: If you are goig to have him in your back row, you must have big physical players around him that can get go forward momentum, he needs space otherwise he is useless. The only impressive thing he did during this series was good at line outs. 5/10
Francois Hougaardt: If he does one more of those little worm rucks to provide himself space to kick I will dirty myself. 5/10
Morne Steyn: Get outta’ here. 3/10
Wynand Olivier: Stop gap, thank you , good bye. 5/10
Jean de Villiers: Didn’t do much and didn’t look like he was inspiring or leading from the front. 6/10
Bryan Habana: not his best game of the series. 6/10
JP Pietersen: Our saving grace. 7/10
Gio Aplon: If the rest of the team showed his guts and determination we would have won by a score, I looked at him when he was singing the Anthem, pure passion from the wee lad. 7/10
Heyneke Meyer has now won his first series. It wasn’t convincing and I will allow him the benefit of the doubt about his selections for this series. But he has some selection decisions to make, and they do not lie with Morne Steyn. He needs to look at Lambie for now, and get Gooen into the mix as soon as possible.
We must get Schalk Burger and Willem Alberts in combination with Spies, without them he should not be selected. We need Duane Vermeulen or Jean Deysel on the bench, Kolisi and Marcell Coetzee should be developed for future use and back up.
Francois Hougaard should be put on a leash and given an attitude adjustment, primary goal of a half back is to clear the ruck, not traffic the bloody ruck. Then take a snipe when there is a gap, after all that is your strength.
Frans Steyn must be courted, loved and motivated by Heyneke Meyer, two of our tries last weekend came from his vision, without him we have nothing.
With Lambie at the back, hide Morne Steyn there until Goosen can come in then relegate him to the bench.
Coenie Oosthuizen needs to be looked after, but Werner Kruger must be sent back to the kindergarten where he can scrum against 8 year olds and build confidence and technique.
Andries Bekker needs to be looked after and motivated, he is injured to often and to much a mood player.
Overall I am very disappointed with this series, we haven’t put one 80 minute performance together, let alone a 40 minute performance, the All Blacks and Wallabies will be relentless. I understand the Springboks will be much stronger when the injured players return, but that will not help us one iota if Morne Steyn remains at pivot.
Wallabes vs Wales - Scott Allen's match highlights -