An atrocious goal kicking performance prevented the Boks from making full use of the gift offered up by an error ridden French side intent on giving the ball air says Tank Lanning in his All Out Rugby #statattack.
Handre Pollard tried his best to lose the game for the Boks in Paris by missing three penalties and a conversion for a miserable goal kicking success rate of just 43%, but if the truth be told, this game was lost by France through the poor execution of a risky game plan.
The Boks blew hot and cold on a crisp Parisian evening, with enough of the former to deliver a much better performance to the one seen against the Irish in Dublin a week ago, but I think it would be fair to say that they are without doubt still finding their feet.
The home side were clearly intent on moving the big Bok around the park, as can be seen by the 17 offloads to the 10 from the Boks. Man mountain Mathieu Bastareaud, traditionally used as a battering ram, lead the charge with 3 offloads.
They made 25 more carries than the visitors, but a metre less per carry than the Boks – more evidence of their want to give the ball air. Les Bleus also kicked 9 times less than the Boks, carving off a whopping 15 metres less per kick, no doubt aiming for shorter contestable kicks given the visitor’s shaky game under the high ball.
The chosen strategy came close to working, but for the coach killing 35 handling errors!
Eben Etzebeth (17 carries) and Malcolm Marx (14 carries) again lead the charge for the visitors, sometimes overdoing it as the game cried out for some width. But with flyhalf Pollard controlling the game via 11 mostly astute kicks from hand, the Boks made more judicial use of their 52% territory and 54% possession.
It was nervy, it was a bit lucky, but it certainly was a bit better.
A look at all the match stats