Sports correspondents Mike Greenaway, Wynona Louw and Morgan Bolton wrap up a nerve-racking tour.
Cape Town – Wales made history by beating the Springboks in South Africa for the first time, but in the end Siya Kolisi and his team rose to the occasion to secure a 2-1 series victory.
Sports correspondents Mike Greenaway, Wynona Louw and Morgan Bolton wrap up what turned out to be a nerve-racking tour.
WHAT WENT RIGHT: The series win was secured in the end and that is ultimately what matters, and from a winning platform the Boks can plan their assault on the All Blacks in the Rugby Championship. The forwards are in fine shape.
WHAT WENT WRONG: If just one of Handré Pollard’s missed penalties had gone over in the 13-12 Bloemfontein defeat, the rugby world would have praised the Bok coaches.
Instead, Gareth Anscombe nailed a miracle conversion to condemn this Bok team to history for all the wrong reasons. The gamble failed.
THIS NEEDS WORK: The Boks have to improve their attacking game.
We will excuse their conservative, kick-first strategy in their first three hit-outs of the season, but now that they have winning momentum, they have to evolve their attacking game.
If they are to be successful in defending the World Cup, they can’t rely only on what worked in 2019.
PLAYER OF THE SERIES: Malcolm Marx. While Eben Etzebeth had powerful games in all three Tests, the player who made the most impact every minute he was on the field was Marx.
No other Test team in the world would have him on the bench. But when he comes on for the Boks he makes every second count.
WHAT WENT RIGHT:
SA won the series, so that’s a start.
Regardless of the result in Bloemfontein, a lot of youngsters got a look-in and were afforded the opportunity to get a feel for Test rugby.
Also, for once the officials didn’t steal the show, so that’s another positive.
WHAT WENT WRONG: Wing virtuoso Cheslin Kolbe went off early in the deciding Test with a suspected jaw fracture, while André Esterhuizen will also be out for a considerable period with a broken hand.
Needless to say, Kolbe is one player you don’t want to start the Rugby Championship without.
THIS NEEDS WORK: Things looked much better in Cape Town, but the Boks can certainly spice things up on attack and work on that box-kick execution if that’s going to remain their go-to.
The forwards are a fearsome unit, but they can’t just rely on them, especially not with a backline like that.
PLAYER OF THE SERIES: This one can be split – Etzebeth deserves praise for the way he emptied the tank in his 100th appearance.
Bok rookie Jaden Hendrikse can take a bow for how he went in his first Test start and again in the decider, and Damian Willemse owned every minute he was on the field.
WHAT WENT RIGHT: The core of the team knows how to win.
In the first Test they were under immense pressure and in big trouble but managed the game to win 32-29. In the decisive third Test, they learnt from their mistakes, and while still guilty of silly errors, were far more ruthless, physical and relentless.
WHAT WENT WRONG: The backline play from the Boks was iffy at best, especially in the first two Tests.
It was mostly due to the Elton Jantjies and Pollard battling in those games, combined with unfamiliar combinations.
It was better in the third Test – helped along by No.9 Hendrikse – but it requires a new approach to make it more dynamic.
THIS NEEDS WORK: If you need the physical stuff, then you can’t go wrong with Jasper Wiese.
The problem is that the No.8 – at the moment – doesn’t offer much else. He was hoicked off early in the third Test and replaced with Kwagga Smith, which brought an extra dimension to the forwards and crucially, the breakdown.
PLAYER OF THE SERIES: The natural choice is arguably Willemse.
But Willie le Roux – coming off the bench in two Tests – once again demonstrated his class and how important he will be for the Boks in the immediate future. He brought structure and calmness to the attack and defence.