During the week and on the podcast I had predicted a Wallabies win. It was a combination of our history down under and the selections made for the test that had me worried, and although I predicted the Bok loss, I by no means expected it to be by such a big margin. The Boks were shown up in emphatic style by a Wallabies side that varied their play and adapted to what was in front of them. The 25 - 17 score line doesn't show the full picture.
Right from the kick off the Wallabies showed they were switched on for this test. They too were coming off the back of a loss in the previous round and were determined to keep their record at home against the Boks in tact. A knock on from Willemse handed the momentum to the Aussies who bashed their way over the line for a try in the opening exchanges. They never took their foot off the pedal after that. The Boks however did little to swing the game back their way with some truly poor decision making and tactics.
When the Springboks are not wasting their possession by kicking the ball away aimlessly, they are winding down the clock for the Aussies with their set piece, helping to ensure Australia don't suffer too much whilst being a man down. Kwagga Smith scored two tries late in the fixture to put some lipstick on the loss, but make no mistake, the Wallabies outclassed the Boks for the entirety of the fixture. Handre Pollard came into the fixture with a 100% kicking record in the competition this year and had a bad day from the kicking tee as the Boks failed to capitalise on the Aussie penalty count.
The Springboks waste too much of their own possession in the hope of their opponents making an error that they can capitalise on, rather than creating opportunities to score. The Boks only constructive method of getting on the scoreboard is through convertible scrum penalties and they rely on this to such an extent that it seems they're unwilling to risk trying anything else. Whilst players like Am, Willemse, Kwagga and Marx were excellent as always, you can't outplay a poor game plan.
I spoke of my concern over the Bok bench when the side was named on Monday and it came to fruition. Whilst Jantjies and Steyn were not out of place, they did not have that injection of energy you want from your substitutes. The Boks failed to lift their tempo with their bench for the second test in a row and this needs to be addressed. Maybe it is simply that by the time the bench takes the field, there is simply too much left to do, making a solid case for a re-look at who is making the run on side.
It must be mentioned too that referee Paul Williams was pretty poor with the whistle, missing a number of penalties and possible cards for both sides. It is very frustrating to see Mapimpi take a no arms hit and no punishment dished out but then Faf gets a yellow for a high tackle. The absurd check with the TMO for Kwagga's 2nd try was also absurd as any Aussie knock on would have allowed the try in any event. Fair and consistent application of the laws remains World Rugby's biggest blunder.
The Springboks will have a week to sort themselves out or risk facing another back to back loss against the Wallabies. Better selections and some variation in tactics are desperately required. If Ian Foster is under such pressure for his performances, how is Jacques Nienaber not facing similar scrutiny with a worse win ration this year than his All Black counterpart.