All Blacks boss Steve Hansen has labelled his side’s defensive display in their 57-0 obliteration of South Africa on Saturday as the best of his six-year tenure, and it’s hard not to agree.
While the All Blacks were sublime (there’s no denying that), the Springboks were also lacklustre in a number of key departments. We’re going to take a look at where they fell short, and how to improve for the home test on the horizon.
To be blunt, the Springbok lineout in Albany was appalling. Missed throws, ill-timed jumps, and bad communication led to the Boks missing out on 5 lineouts, and ones with great opportunities to attack from. If they’re to stand a chance in Cape Town, they’ll have to nullify Sam Whitelock too, who proved to be a thorn in the side of the Boks.
An obvious one, but arguably the most important. The All Blacks beat 32 Springbok defenders during the 80 minutes, with the Springboks missing 70% of their tackles. The All Blacks missed 19, which is considerably high for their standards. The All Blacks’ attacking game-plan is built around support-play, so if a player doesn’t get them to the ground immediately, there will always be the chance of an offload or half-break and pass. The Springboks need to heighten their intensity and get their shoulders into tackles, rather than chasing and grabbing at jerseys.
The Springboks looked great against Argentina away from home, using attacking kicks and wide running to open up the Argentine defence. In Albany, we saw none of that against the All Blacks. Jantjies and Serfontein did attempt some switches, but they depth they lie is so deep that it provides no real surprise or will never catch the All Blacks off balance. Some set-piece attacking moves and dummy running (an All Blacks speciality) is needed to chip away at the predictability of the Boks.
Making smart decisions with penalties in your favour is not only incentivised, but mandatory. The Springboks opting to go for the corner when they had won penalties — knowing well that their lineout wasn’t coping — is a scratching concept. In a Test match against the All Blacks, take the 3 points on offer, especially if it’s a manageable kick. Somehow, the Springboks seem to make their jobs harder for themselves by avoiding a penalty goal. Is this Coetzee’s instructions or on-field decisions by the captain? One has to wonder…
The likes of Damian McKenzie, Reiko Ioane, and Nehe Milner-Skudder (none particularly known for their long kicking prowess), dominated the kicking-battle with the Springbok back-three and Elton Jantjies. If the Boks are going to kick ahead, space needs to be found. Aimless kicking into the arms of three of the most dangerous backline players in the world is only asking for a concession of 5 points.
What do you think will happen? Do you think the Boks can bounce back against the All Blacks? You can place your bets on the upcoming Rugby Championship games here.