Springbok comeback victory a sign of character

Corne Van Vuuren Roar Guru

By Corne Van Vuuren, Corne Van Vuuren is a Roar Guru & Live Blogger

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    You would be forgiven if after the first 25 minutes at Johannesburg you thought the Test match between South Africa and England was done and dusted, with the tourists up 24-3.

    The momentum was such that every bounce of the ball, every unnecessary error possible went England’s way.

    But then the tide turned.

    The Springboks struck back with four tries in the next quarter, with Faf de Klerk, Willie le Roux and S’busiso Nkosi’s two scores seeing the home team go into halftime with a lead of 29-27.

    Suddenly, this inexperienced Bok team started to look confident.

    The second half was more like traditional Test match rugby. At 50 minutes, Handre Pollard landed a penalty, edging South Africa further ahead, and but for two missed penalties, they could have stretched the gap from five to 11.

    Then, in the 60th minute, Mako Vunipola was carded for a late shoulder hit on Faf de Klerk and South Africa obliged with a try, stretching the lead to 12 points.

    During the yellow card period, England struck back with a try of their own and the deficit was restored.

    In the end, South Africa held on for a crucial victory – it would have been disastrous for Rassie Erasmus’ men to lose successive Tests at the beginning of his tenure.

    There weren’t any really poor performances, however defence is something Erasmus will need to focus on. From the opening minute, it was clear the back line didn’t know each other well and the defensive combinations and structures weren’t working.

    Out wide, England found oodles of space and the hesitation in the SA midfield defence meant that the backline defence shifted in, only to provide the necessary space out wide.

    There were also some poorly executed tackles – Pollard, in particular, was disappointing, his tackling technique was to go very low and that meant he was largely ineffectual.

    The Springboks showed a willingness to retain posession and there were some silky skills on show, but then there were also some horribly risky passes and offloads as well.

    Dwayne Vermeulen, RG Snyman, Faf de Klerk, Willie le Roux and S’busiso Nkosi were the standouts, but credit should go to Siya Kolisi and his senior players, who managed to keep the team calm and keep believnig in their processes.

    It is too early to tell whether this Bok team will be consistently successful, but it delivers in spades the belief that Rassie is transforming Springbok rugby into a team for all people of South Africa, a team that looks to be more flashy in attack and knows how to score points.

    All they need now is attitude in defence and to grow – the longer Erasmus can stick to a core selection, the better the combinations will function.

    What I loved about the 50,000-plus crowd in Johannesburg was the diversity, celebrating their first black Springbok captain’s win.

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    The Crowd Says (79)

    • Roar Guru

      June 11th 2018 @ 6:04am
      Harry Jones said | June 11th 2018 @ 6:04am | ! Report

      What a roller coaster, man!

      Chatting with a few ROARERS during the match, it went like this:

      “Weak, weak, weak. This is a horror show. Pollard. DdeA. Powderpuff.”

      “We need to WAKE UP!!!!”

      “And let’s attack!!!!!!”

      “WHERE IS OUR FRINGE DEFENCE????????????????????????????????????????”

      Later, it was much happier! Hahaha

      Yes, I think this match was a “gut check.” If it had been Coetzee’s culture, the Boks would have folded, for sure.

      I hope Rassie keeps the team mostly as it is, but I would prefer Kitshoff to start, and yes, no more DdeA.

      • June 11th 2018 @ 7:04am
        Carlos the Argie said | June 11th 2018 @ 7:04am | ! Report

        Happy for the Saffas!

        We went riding when it was 24-3 and 25 miles from home, at the top of a climb I saw the final score. It was surreal. I saw the entire game last night and was impressed at how calm the Boks were and how they recovered. Leadership appeared awesome.

        I mentioned somewhere else how dirty was Itoje, hitting after the ball poor Faf every time he could. Vunipola got the card but Itoje was the thuggish criminal. I am glad Faf stood his ground and clearly showed the English that he wasn’t intimidated and even led his team to victory. The two smaller guys were amazing. Le Roux and Faf, huge hearts in smaller bodies. And huge brains too.

        • Roar Guru

          June 11th 2018 @ 7:26am
          Harry Jones said | June 11th 2018 @ 7:26am | ! Report

          Faf actually gave Maro a little chirp after he scored! hahahaahah

          • June 11th 2018 @ 8:35am
            Carlos The Argie said | June 11th 2018 @ 8:35am | ! Report

            Truly deserved.

            • June 11th 2018 @ 11:34am
              Neil Back said | June 11th 2018 @ 11:34am | ! Report

              As the rounded commentator we’ve grown to observe, I’m positive you’ve been just as vocal about Bok sides over the decades who have positively celebrated in giving it after the refs eye has moved on for decades.

              • June 11th 2018 @ 12:58pm
                JimmyB said | June 11th 2018 @ 12:58pm | ! Report


              • June 12th 2018 @ 3:22am
                Carlos the Argie said | June 12th 2018 @ 3:22am | ! Report


                You can ask Harry how many times I commented about Bakkies Botha thuggery. And I am sure you remember how many times I complained about Lavanini. I even joked, with Harry, to select a team based on thuggery.

          • June 11th 2018 @ 2:56pm
            cuw said | June 11th 2018 @ 2:56pm | ! Report

            Harry Jones

            that was a poor card – just like the one Frenchies got.

            agree that Itoje was the thug and also committed many fouls ( i think about 3 penalties ).

            he is as not ” great ” as some people make him out to be.

            • June 11th 2018 @ 7:55pm
              Neil Back said | June 11th 2018 @ 7:55pm | ! Report

              Honestly don’t think people have given him any more wraps than he’s deserved. People forget he’s still only 23 and exploded on the scene to deserved praise with performances and a CV to back it up. Of late he’s failed to live up to that start, and I don’t see anyone denying that – but I see plenty of people falling over themselves to rubbish him and almost always those usual suspects with an anti-English anything agenda. Ho hum.

              Such a shame he didn’t come along with Johnson still in his prime to take him under his wing. That would have been a scholarship and locking pair rarely enjoyed.

              Far too early to be calling him a great. And far too early to decide he won’t be.

              • Roar Guru

                June 12th 2018 @ 12:37am
                Harry Jones said | June 12th 2018 @ 12:37am | ! Report

                Yes, the “jury is still out” on Maro (and jeez, on Snyman, too). Let’s see these young pups do it like Brodie, Eben, AWJ, Whitelock, Lood, Launchbury, for a while, year in and year out, post-injury, after setbacks, and adding skills before crowning them as kings. Definitely a lot of promise and talent. But rugby is a long game.

    • June 11th 2018 @ 6:24am
      felix said | June 11th 2018 @ 6:24am | ! Report

      How about Vorster from the Lions whilst Serfontein and Steyn are out?.

      • Roar Guru

        June 11th 2018 @ 7:29am
        Harry Jones said | June 11th 2018 @ 7:29am | ! Report

        Andre E has been busting tackles all season–including Kiwi tackles. I say give him a chance, like BB says. DdeA is not smart. Near the end of the match, hot on attack, with numbers, and the need to burn clock, he grubbered weakly, letting England have a final shot. Also, I blame him more than pollard on the Brown try–at least Handre had motored all the way over in scramble mode, overshot and got stepped–easy to do in that situation. DdeA had a much better shot, and was weak.

        • Roar Guru

          June 11th 2018 @ 8:00am
          Diggercane said | June 11th 2018 @ 8:00am | ! Report

          Agree Harry, nothing like a 12 who can make the ad line when it gets tough, he has looked good and the combination with Am as Corne points out is a big plus.

          I thought England were smart to immediately attack and test out the cohesiveness of SA somewhat new look backline and it looked like curtains early but it was very impressive to come back as they did, there seemed little sign of panic in the ranks and the ambition on attack is welcome. And now in Snyman another quality lock? Depth looks fairly useful right now. Looks like it is going to be a fun year!

          Thanks for the piece BB and congrats on a great win guys.

    • June 11th 2018 @ 6:34am
      Onside said | June 11th 2018 @ 6:34am | ! Report

      A really good game to watch for viewers new to rugby, who because they have never
      played the game, will never understand rugby’s many layered subtleties and nuances.

    • June 11th 2018 @ 6:40am
      Kane said | June 11th 2018 @ 6:40am | ! Report

      I still think they’ll win 3 zip.

      • Roar Guru

        June 11th 2018 @ 12:08pm
        PeterK said | June 11th 2018 @ 12:08pm | ! Report

        I thought the boks would always win the 2 at altitude and 50/50 on the one at capetown.

    • June 11th 2018 @ 6:44am
      Drongo said | June 11th 2018 @ 6:44am | ! Report

      The article is accurate, the headline is rubbish. It wasn’t ‘character’ that won this match. It was skill and execution. I watched it and it was very enjoyable. People want to ascribe good character to every win and bad character to every loss. But that ignores the reslity of what happened. A great win to the Boks. The referee canned the English and that was a factor, however they needed to adjust st and couldn’t.

      • June 11th 2018 @ 7:05am
        Kane said | June 11th 2018 @ 7:05am | ! Report

        You can have all the skill in the world and not come back from that deficit, that was character, they dug deep and came back and took the lead, later in the match they had to withstand a comeback themselves and held on.

      • Roar Guru

        June 11th 2018 @ 7:43am
        Corne Van Vuuren said | June 11th 2018 @ 7:43am | ! Report

        The Springboks haven’t shown any character for the previous two seasons, they surrendered meekly many times, there was no way they would have come back like that under Coetzee.

    • June 11th 2018 @ 7:01am
      felix said | June 11th 2018 @ 7:01am | ! Report

      @Drongo,with the English consistently and persistantly belly flopping,litteraly taking a nap right where the ball is supposed to come out,what is a ref to do?!.

      • June 11th 2018 @ 10:18am
        JimmyB said | June 11th 2018 @ 10:18am | ! Report

        Be consistent! And ping SA for the same offences. Jones was 100% correct, he was a hometown ref. Congrats to the Boks, but the ref had a direct result on that game.

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