What’s left to say?
Cape Town - The Springboks recorded a fortunate draw against the Barbarians, and lost to England, Italy and Wales. So if that isn’t an indication of the trouble they are in, I don’t know what is.
It has been a historic tour for the Boks. Historic for all the wrong reasons.
They’ve suffered their first-ever record eighth loss. They managed their first-ever draw to the Barbarians. They lost to England for the first time in 10 years. They lost to Italy for the first time in history. And they lost to Wales for only the third time.
Unlike a great number of games this season, the Springboks showed good enterprise early on and played with energy and intensity. But that, as we all know, didn’t last very long.
They also slipped in more errors that can possibly be excused, and struggled to hold onto the ball.
They produced an improved performance on defence, but there was a moment in particular that they can be glad Poite got in the way after a Welsh lineout, because their defence was in trouble with too many players found wanting and the damage on the scoreboard could have been much worse.
The Boks were yet again guilty of being caught out of position one too many times. And while we’re on the topic of confused responsibilities, someone needs to please tell me why the smallest man one the field (Faf de Klerk, in case there was any confusion) was the one contesting the high balls. Just like last week.
One thing that was slightly different than last week was the Boks’ breakdown efforts, as they recycled quicker and applied more grit on the ground.
But their attack was once again one-dimensional.
The debutantes, however, didn’t disappoint. Well two of them, that is.
Wing Jamba Ulengo basically touched the ball for the first time in the 37th minute, while inside centre Rohan Janse van Rensburg and flanker Uzair Cassiem proved that they are worthy of wearing the Springbok jersey. However, at this stage, the honour of that jersey is somewhat lost.
Janse van Rensburg made strong runs and got involved wherever he could with strong support play and solid tackles, while Cassiem was an absolute workhorse on defence with a big defensive display and solid runs.
This was a chance for Elton Jantjies and Faf de Klerk to shine on the big stage, but they failed badly. Jantjies threw at least three poor passes, had a kick charged down and did not kick well out of hand before being replaced by Pat Lambie, while De Klerk, although he cleared the rucks quite quickly, made a number of poor decisions.
But it’s the Welsh that that can be proud of their individual productions.
Fullback Leigh Halfpenny was immense with the boot as he slotted five penalties and missed just one conversion, while his performance in open play was also laudable.
He kicked four penalties in the first half to Elton Jantjies’ two to give his side a 12-6 advantage at half time.
Wales No 7 Justin Tipuric e of the standout performers as he stole balls in the tackle, hit rucks and was effective at the lineouts. And in the last few minutes, he took the game out of South Africa's reach (and super running line) to kill the visitors’ chances of victory.
The Springboks’ most-felt error surely was the loss of Faf de Klerk after he was sin-binned for a deliberate knock-down, and their breakdown speed was significantly slower without the nifty No 9.
And after that Wales drew the first real blood and punished the Boks for their wrongs.
Bok lock Lood de Jager was penalised for playing the ball from an offside position, and things went from bad to worse extremely quickly for the Boks when Wales decided to go for touch rather than the three points. They secured the lineout ball and put in a strong driving maul and punished the Springbok loose forwards for their disarray on defence as hooker Ken Owens broke away and crashed over for the try. Halfpenny sent the conversion wide and Wales held a 20-6 lead.
The Boks responded with a try much later in the game. With 11 minutes to go, Cassiem finished off a great debut with a try to bring the Boks back into the match. From an attacking lineout on the 22, the Springboks set up a maul and produced a powerful shove to the try line, and Cassiem finished it off. Patrick Lambie, who replaced Jantjies in the third quarter, got the conversion over to boost the Boks’ chances of a comeback (13-20).
Tipuric finished the game with that first-class try, and the Boks must have been relieved to hear the final whistle blow on this tour. As for coach Allister Coetzee, it's hard to see how he can hold on to his job.
Wales: Tries: Ken Owens, Justin Tipuric Conversions: Leigh Halfpenny Penalties: Halfpenny (5)
Springboks: Tries: Uzair Cassiem Conversions: Patrick Lambie Penalties: Elton Jantjies (2) Yellow card: Faf de Klerk
Original source: Boks, Coetzee make the wrong kind of history