Where did it go wrong for the Boks asks Tank Lanning in his AOR STAT ATTACK? Ireland, having noted the Bok ineffectiveness with ball in hand, just kicked the ball back to the Boks and watched them implode.
Given Allister Coetzee’s tragic record with the Springboks, the state of the nation as depicted in Jacques Pauw’s The President’s Keepers, together with the fact that the country’s tourist epi centre is likely to run out of water during the holiday season because of a lack of planning, it’s pretty damn difficult not to get emotional about Saturday’s shambolic 38-3 loss to the Irish in Dublin.
In fact, pass the damn Arsenic! That perhaps for a column during the week, though. Instead to the match stats for a vestige of objectivity …
The Boks enjoyed 61% of the territory, 54% of the possession, made 134 more metres in hand from 12 more carries, made more good passes than the Irish made total passes, and even made 1 more offload than the hosts.
Yet lost the try count 4-0 and the game by 35 points. That is how traumatically poor and ineffective the Boks were with ball in hand! In fact, last week’s Baa Baa side that took on the All Blacks looked like they had spent more time together than the Boks!
Where did it go wrong, then?
Basically, Ireland, having noted the Bok ineffectiveness with ball in hand, which sadly, was actually better than the kicking game put together by a halfback pairing that looked way out of their depth, chose to kick the ball back to the Boks (via astute space finders or contestable up an unders), and watch them implode. From the 4 extra kicks the Irish made, they carved off 226 more metres than the Boks!
Four of the top five Bok carriers were forwards. Quite clearly, based on their success at Newlands against a side with one foot on the plane after having won the Rugby Champs, the Boks were hoping that another blunt force trauma approach would be enough to subdue the Irish. It wasn’t.
On the other side of the field, three of the host’s top five ball carriers were backs. Via astute use of the boot, a scrum that took two heels against the head and forced 4 penalties, and a 92% success tackle efficiency, the Irish put themselves into areas of the field from which to strike. And strike they did.
Ireland set the tone in minute one with a massive double tackle on Coenie Oosthuizen that sent the big Free Stater from the field. From then on in, they owned not only the collision (the Boks lost 5 rucks and conceded 6 turnovers), but the game as well.