PORT ELIZABETH, South Africa -- Four takeaways from the Springboks' win over the Wallabies at Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium in Port Elizabeth.
Wallabies lacked the patience to beat the Springboks' rush defence
The Wallabies struggled to handle the Boks' physical rush defence from the very first minute -- literally -- when wing Aphiwe Dyantyi intercepted a ball on the Aussies' goalline to score. The visitors needed to be more selective when trying to breach the home team's defence, as they tried to force the odd pass when another phase would have been the right thing to do. But the Boks also scrambled well when the Wallabies broke the line, and it seems like they are going to continue with this high-risk, high-reward style of defending that also helped them to the beat the All Blacks in Wellington.
Can the Springboks sustain this way of defending?
Surely the Springboks can't keep making more than double the number of tackles than the opposition? Most of those tackles are also dominant, which take a lot of physical effort out of the players. While the Boks made 100 fewer tackles against the Wallabies at Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium than they did against the All Blacks in Wellington, they made 144 tackles on the night compared with the 74 of the visitors. The real test will come next week against the All Blacks in Pretoria, when we will see if they can repeat the effort in two successive matches without having a week off.
The Springboks' kicking game remains a problem
Faf de Klerk's kicking from the base really put the Springboks under the pressure. The Wallabies are a great counter-attacking team and kicking aimlessly on their back three is one of the biggest sins in rugby: You basically invite pressure and your forwards don't get a respite from defending. De Klerk is a dangerous scrum-half, but his kicking is a part of his game that the Boks need to get right if they want to continue to get better ahead of next year's Rugby World Cup. Luckily the Boks scrambled well on defence to defuse the Aussies' attacks.
Handre Pollard's goal-kicking was the difference on the night
Handre Pollard got of a lot of flack for the goal-kicking at the start of the competition -- most notably in the first match against Argentina in Durban, where he missed five out of seven kicks at goal. But on Saturday his goal-kicking was the difference, as he slotted all of his attempts at the posts while the Wallabies' kickers missed three crucial kicks that could have made a difference to the scoreline on the day. Pollard's improvement off the kicking tee may have to do with kicking coach Louis Koen, who spent the week before the Test with the Boks.