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Sunday, July 08, 2007

SA vs Australia Rugby Post-mortem

25-17. The Springbok "B" team, which it was dubbed leading up to the game, transformed into the Springbok legends for the first 10 minutes of the match (the Aussies were planning a tap-dance to explain that one), but in the end, restored to a "B" team by a Wallaby team which was clinical and professional in coming back from 17 points down after about 15 minutes.

So what do we make of the game? Again, we at The Science of Sport are focused on cycling and running, and so I will be cautious about making radical claims - the last thing we need is another armchair expert! But I think that both teams will claim the moral victory from the game, and in the end, it's 80 minutes that have shown relatively little ahead of the World Cup later this year.

The 'Boks will be claiming the higher ground because they scared the Wallabies with an understrength team, fought hard and could have been even closer had Hougaard kicked even two out of the three penalties that he missed. And of course, there will always be questions of "What if we had played with...X? And Jake will claim that his decision is vindicated by the fact that he has no major injuries to his key players, apart from Skinstad's ribs (and that is minor).

The Wallabies, on the other hand, will claim 65 minutes of dominane, a scoreline that reads 25-0 from 15 minutes onwards. And in test rugby, to go 25-0 over the last three-quarters of a match is quite dominant. The Wallabies, then, will say that apart from a blip at the start of the game, they stamped their authority over SA.

So let's call it a draw...But from an analytical point of view (which tends to be negative, unfortunately!), my concern would be the lack of creativity, because the reality is that between about 15 minutes and 75 minutes, when we started throwing everything at the Wallabies, we didn't really look like scoring. The side seemed bereft of any creativity, and it's interesting to speculate who the missing players are that bring that to the side? Is it Butch James at 10? Perhaps it's the combination of James-de Villiers, maybe it's Montgomery at Full-back? Point is though, without the main players, they looked out of ideas - it wasn't so much execution, but ideas, and that means the state of the game is a little fragile, being over-dependent on a few players.

Anyway, it's off to New Zealand next, sans Skinstad, and we'll see how they go there.



Andrew said...

Although Wikus did very well, and I'm a big fan of his, I really think we missed the intensity of Schalk at the break down. The aussies were fearless there, and turned over lots of ball. And hougaard was not great on attack, his organisation of his defence just wasn't up to scratch.
However, it was always going to be a game played by individuals, rather than one played by a team, due to the lack of time they had with each other.