BLOG: Second chance in France

It has taken two full days to recover from the match that will now be known as the Disaster in Dublin, also known as the day the Springboks were beaten 38-3 by Ireland.

Anyone who watched Saturday’s test match will agree that as much as the final score was disappointing, what was actually more crushing about that defeat was the flat performance from the Bokke.

The phrase ‘a game of two halves’ is often thrown around in sports circles because in general it is accepted that a team will do better in one half of the match. That was not the case with the Boks on Saturday because they were equally bad in both halves.

I can throw in all the sports clichés about the lack of character and fighting spirit after going into the break 14-3 down, but in the end it boils down to international rugby players failing to do the basics, like catching and passing the ball and knowing when to run and when to kick.

The Boks did have possession and they did have promising attacking phases but all of them ended the same way, with the players and the supporters burying their heads in their hands.

One felt that the Boks were one try away from a comeback for most of the match but things went from bad to worse as they conceded 24 points in the last 10 minutes, talk about rubbing salt into a wound.

That match is done and dusted now and there are three more remaining before we can judge this tour as a whole, and we will have to assess everything when every single match has been concluded.

The most important thing now is to focus on the very next Test, which will be another tricky one against France on Saturday night. The French will provide a different type of challenge but we have faced and beaten them three times already this year, albeit on South African soil.

The Springboks need to win this match and convincingly so to reverse the damage that was done in Dublin and get the tour back on track but Allister Coetzee will be under the spotlight before the match even gets underway as we all wait to see how he will go about with his match selection.

He is already forced to make two changes with Pieter –Steph du Toit and Coenie Oosthuizen ruled out by injury, but he may need to make some changes to the backline too because in my opinion that department cost us the match against Ireland.

The centres didn’t work at all for me, on attack and in defence, so I’d definitely change both, and I’d also welcome the axing of one or both of the wings. The half pairing has also been criticised but I would give them another chance because I do feel that most of our momentum died when the ball was no longer in their control.

I was tempted to change the fullback as well but too many changes may prove to do more harm than good and Andries Coetzee did perform well against France in June.

At the end of the day, these changes will mean nothing if the Springboks don’t change their mindset and go back to the team they were in June, where they defended as a collective and didn’t waste their opportunities when they had the ball in hand.

 

Here’s my proposed Springboks squad for Saturday’s clash:

15. Andries Coetzee, 14. Dillyn Leyds, 13. Lukhanyo Am, 12. Francois Venter, 11. Raymond Rhule, 10. Elton Jantjies, 9. Ross Cronje, 8. Duane Vermeulen, 7. Francois Louw, 6. Siya Kolisi, 5. Lood de Jager, 4. Eben Etzebeth, 3. Wilco Louw, 2. Malcolm Marx, 1. Tendai Mtawarira

Replacements:

16. Bongi Mbonambi, 17. Steven Kitshoff, 18. Trevor Nyakane, 19. Franco Mostert, 20. Uzair Cassiem, 21. Rudy Paige, 22. Handré Pollard, 23. Jesse Kriel 

 

Xolile Mpisane

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