The Boks will not be happy with the 18 handling errors they made in Perth on Saturday, 6 more than their hosts. Which speaks to a lack of finishing, probably the thing that cost the Boks the game.
Vintage it was not. In fact, the first half was not a lot different to munching one’s way through a cut glass sandwich! To be fair, though, the second half was a little better.
And while both sides may have scored their points in identical fashion: two tries, two conversions and three penalties each, it was via quite different game plans.
The Wallabies made over 300 more metres with ball in hand from 20 more carries than the Boks, while the visitors made close on 90 more tackles than the Aussies, missing only 14 for a 92% success rate.
Both sides kicked 23 times, but it was the Boks who carved off 842 meters via the boot, 150m more than the home side. Not that it was always at the right time, or executed that well. In fact, often they seemed to be too deep, giving the likes of Israel Folau and Kurtley Baele far too much time to deal with them.
The Boks will also not be happy with the 18 handling errors they made, 6 more than the Aussies. Which speaks to a lack of finishing, probably the thing that cost the Boks the game. Opportunities they had, especially in the second half when the pack started getting some sort of ascendancy, but it was the finishing that let them down.
And while the breakdown stats suggest some sort of parity, it was a very messy part of the game, with neither side particularly effective. Uzair Cassiem went MIA, shown up hugely by replacement loose forward Jean-Luc du Preez, who played a big part of in the Bok second half resurgence.
Without the scrum dominance enjoyed in the first two Rugby Champs games against the Pumas, the Boks found themselves on the back foot, taking resultant pressure at half back. Replacement looshead prop Steven Kitshoff changed that in the second half, and both he and Du Preez must be pushing hard for spots in the run on XV.
With only 47% territory and possession, the Boks showed great character to come back from a 10 point deficit in the second half. The revitalised team culture remains strong.
To his credit, skipper Eben Etzebeth would not be talked into being happy with a draw away from home, and nor should he be against an Aussie side struggling to find consistent form. As such, the jury remains out just how good this improving Bok side is.
This time next week we will know for sure!