The Wallabies continue to be their own worst enemy. Clearly, they had learned nothing from the two rugby lessons provided by the All Blacks in the past three weeks.
The Springboks have also failed to heed the lessons of the Stormers flawed campaigns in 2011 and 2012.
After a schoolboy error riddled performance in Auckland, the Wallabies picked up where they had left off.
From the kick off and ensuing ruck on the Wallabies 22, just 5 metres from the right hand side line, the Wallabies threw two 15 metre passes deep in their own 22.
Samo drove straight and hard up the middle of the field. Quick ruck ball and a 12 metre long Cooper’s pass to Barnes produced a “three on one”. The inherent flaw in this first play of the game was that the play wasnow on the Wallabies 20 metre line and now only 5 metres from the left touch line. Seeing nothing on, and with his default still set to “kick”, Barnes fluffed the left footed grubber kick. Thisgave possession to the Springboks, 27 metres from the Wallabies line. The closest forwards were Timani and Hooper 15 and 20 metres away respectively.
This is low percentage rugby at best and brainless at worst.
Sadly, for the spectators, this was to be a portent of things to come. More frustratingly, it was a replay of many pastindividual performances and games.
Width for the sake of it and without forward metres is not attack. It’s the equivalent of the type of across the field running seen every week in the Under 9’s across the country that sends coaches and parents crazy and allows the most timid defenders to halt their opponents.
Robbie Deans shares the same frustration.
In contrast, the Springboks then replied with 10 phases of straight running up the middle of the field. They needed just one partial missed tackle from the Wallabies and they would have 7 points. A ruck infringement would have netted them 3 points. The Wallabies defence stood strong and disciplined on this occasion.
From the 22 restart, Barnes again chose the highest risk option, the “kick and regather” drop out. He surprised the Springboks. More crucially, he surprised his own team. Genia got to the ruck, passed it to Timani, but without the clean out, He was penalised for hold on. Steyn kicked the penalty.
In summary, two crucial and unnecessary errors by Barnes, a 3-0scoreline, after just 2 minutes. “Easy peasy” for the Springboks but generously dished up to them by the Wallabies.
Despite a new coach, the Springboks have not shown the diverse attacking game that is needed in International rugby, particularly when New Zealand is one of the opponents. Where was Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer during the Super rugby season and in particular the play offs? Didn’t he see theStormers campaign fall short for the second year in a row due to a lack of point scoring capability?
The Springboks lack the modicum of flair that would complement their physical, confrontational game. Despite having just five Stormers in the 22, the Boks still play thatattritional style.
These two teams have significant challenges ahead of them, if they truly aspire to be Number 1. The Wallabies need to remove the dumb plays from their repertoire and the Springboks need toboost their attack.
There is not much between these two teams as they fight for 2ndplace in the world rankings. Last night, the statistics were very close. Both teams are under intense scrutiny from the fans and respective media.
I think that the Wallabies issues are more easily addressed. The Springboks issues are more fundamental.
There is a lot at stake. If they address these schoolboy errors, and retain the good parts of their game, they can challenge the All Blacks for the Number 1 rugby team in the world. This sets positions them as a genuine chance to win the RWC 2015.
Together, they will bring much- needed surge in revenues.