Five things about the Boks' play that have delighted and infuriated

05 October 2019 - 13:51
By Liam Del Carme
Springboks players Eben Etzebeth and Cheslin Kolbe celebrate.
Image: Springboks/Twitter Springboks players Eben Etzebeth and Cheslin Kolbe celebrate.

With the Springboks having effectively qualified for the knock-out stages of the Rugby World Cup (RWC)‚ here are five things that delights and infuriates about their play so far in Japan.

1) Squandered opportunities

The Boks can be more ruthless in attack when opportunity presents itself.

Against the All Blacks they squandered chances that would have made for a much tighter contest in the final quarter.

Coach Rassie Erasmus‚ in particular‚ lamented a chance that went begging when they had the All Blacks on the rack but then failed to secure their ruck ball.

They weren’t as clinical as they can be against Namibia or Italy for that matter. Poor passing and some questionable decision making have served to undermined them.

2) Too much lateral running

Seeking to be more ruthless in attack will have to go hand-in-hand with fastidious adherence to the basics.

Too often Bok backliners drift sideways cramping the wings for space.

Willie le Roux‚ although gifted a deft passing game‚ has made life infinitely easier for the defence because they have the touchline as an extra defender.

In Damian de Allende and Lukhanyo Am the Boks have centres who are increasingly operating on the same wavelength.

It is a shame their good work is at times undermined.

3) Hot wings

Cheslin Kolbe is proving one of the revelations of this RWC.

The little dynamo has been a handful with opposing defences clutching thin air as he whizzes past defenders. Despite being relatively short‚ Kolbe has also proved adept at securing the high ball.

He is tenacious in the tackle too and he will be a player to watch in the knock-out phases.

In Makazole Mapimpi the Boks have a voracious try scorer who just doesn’t get enough. He has now dotted down 11 times in as many Tests. He has a nose for a try while his general work rate is exemplary.

4) Bok pack starting to rumble

It was quite an admission from Bok coach Rassie Erasmus that his team’s physicality over the last four‚ five Tests has been too inconsistent.

In the week leading up to the Test against Italy you got the sense it was very much in the Boks blueprint to outmuscle Italy and ultimately pummel them into submission.

That is exactly what happened and Erasmus noted how proud he was of his players in the physicality stakes.

They need to show similar intensity all the way through the knock-out stages though.

5) Set-piece improvement

The Boks’ set pieces have gradually improved during this tournament.

Their scrum looked vulnerable to some trickery by the All Blacks in the opening game but apart from that they have been solid in that facet.

They even mastered Italy who they believed would be a tough nut to crack.

The Bok line-out has been exemplary.

Franco Mostert, who had been running the show in that area, made way for Lood de Jager against Namibia and again against Italy.

The Boks won all 16 balls they fed the line-out against the Italians and even poached two of the opposition ball.