Insipid Boks, coach relieved 2016 season is over

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Even a fresh injection of youngsters couldn’t save the sinking Bok ship at the Millennium Stadium as Wales benefited from an error-strewn display by the South Africans to claim a 27-13 triumph.

The noose around Bok coach Allister Coetzee would’ve tightened considerably after Saturday’s result, with his fate set to be decided in the coming weeks by the South African Rugby Union.

The seven changes he made to the team didn’t have the desired effect, despite the attempts by debutant Uzair Cassiem to spark them into life.

There was a bit more attacking intent from the backs, with flyhalf Elton Jantjies operating on the gainline and trying to run different angles with ball in hand.

But the lack of cohesion was evident in a team who were playing together for the first time, as they seldom read Jantjies’ mind.

Inside passes went astray or were knocked on, while forwards Tendai Mtawarira and captain Adriaan Strauss remained stuck in their default setting of waiting to carry the ball instead of cleaning out rucks.

The Boks gave away a number of silly penalties for going offside from knock-ons, and that saw Welsh fullback Leigh Halfpenny slot four first-half penalties to put the home side 12-6 up at the break.

Blindside flank Cassiem was the one Bok who could hold his head high. He never stopped tackling, was physical in contact and generated good momentum when he took the ball up.

But the Boks kept on slipping tackles, while the defensive alignment was all over the place, which gave Welsh runners George North, Jonathan Davies and Scott Williams easy metres.

Much-hyped inside centre Rohan Janse van Rensburg didn’t get a lot of ball, and when he did, he was often tackled back and had the ball ripped away.

Fullback Johan Goosen ran it back on occasion when fielding kicks downfield, but he never varied his game and was just lined up every time by the defence.

The Boks just appeared lost throughout to complete a miserable year, and things went from bad to worse when Faf de Klerk was yellow-carded - perhaps a bit harshly - for a deliberate knockdown just after halftime as Dan Biggar collected his own chip and passed out wide.

The Welsh pack rumbled forward from a five-metre lineout, and hooker Ken Owens barged over to put the Dragons virtually out of sight at 20-6 with about half-an-hour to go.

There was no way that the disjointed Boks would be able to hit back, and even though Coetzee made a number of substitutions in the last quarter, it didn’t make much difference despite Cassiem scoring from a maul with 10 minutes to go.

Hardworking flank Justin Tipuric burst through between Nizaam Carr and Francois Venter before rounding Goosen to seal the victory with four minutes left.

But the Bok performance was typically lacking inspiration, which has largely been the case under Coetzee’s watch.

Saru will have to seriously think of making the big call and moving on from Coetzee, and starting over in 2017.

The coach stubbornly stuck to most of the experienced players who didn’t deliver throughout the year.

Coetzee also appointed a reluctant captain in Strauss who wanted to retire after last year’s Rugby World Cup, while he insisted that the team were training well and would improve the longer they were together.

Losing to Ireland at home in June and then Argentina away was bad enough, but the defeat to Italy last week was inexcusable.

Coetzee refused to embrace a more attacking style of play with a new generation.

Add in a disastrous results column and he doesn’t look like the man who can reignite Springbok rugby and take them forward to the 2019 Rugby World Cup.

Weekend Argus

Original source: Insipid Boks, coach relieved 2016 season is over

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