Defence shows Bok character

In the All Out Rugby #StatAttack, TANK LANNING sees the truly magnificent Springbok defence showcasing how much the Boks have grown in the character, guts and courage stakes.  

Tank Lanning

The French missed 4 less tackles than the Boks in Durban on Saturday! And the visitors actually kicked one more time than the home side …

However, the Boks were asked to make 112 more tackles than the French, thus delivering an astonishing tackle success rate of 93% (to the 88% of the visitors), and from one fewer kick, the Boks carved off 118 more metres than the visitors.

That ten to twelve minute period in the second half that saw the Boks defending their line in the face of all the French had to offer, defined this Springbok effort. Character, guts, playing for each other, playing for the jersey, heart, courage … and all those good things that build up belief, were apparent by the bucket load for all to see.

A joy to watch.

Franco Mostert – unsung perhaps, but a vital cog in this Bok transition – made a truly monstrous 25 tackles. Jan Serfontein, in what was without doubt his best performance in a Bok jersey, made 18 tackles, while the man of the moment, Siya Kolisi, made 17, 4 of which were dominant. It was a magnificent defensive effort, both individually, and structurally.

This while the kicking stats speak to Elton Jantjies’ growth as the Bok backline general. From 6 kicks, he carved of a massive 220m, to that of Francois Trinh-Duc’s 125 metres from 5 kicks. As such the Boks found themselves playing in the right area of the field, and working their attacking magic where it counts – in the opposition half, and using the first 5 or 6 phases, not the last 18 or 20.

There was a moment in the 23rd minute that really pleased me, though. Mostert was asked to carry it up, but instead of just putting his head down and smashing into the trees, he looked for a bit of a gap, and shifted the pass to Kolisi on his shoulder, so he could run into it. That is some proper growth in the Bok rugby IQ and very encouraging indeed.

Look, the fact that the French could only make 3.5m per carry – half that of the Boks, does speak to a continued lack of execution and penetration. They are not a great side, and look tired at the end of a long season.

So yes, the Boks will need to improve in order to take on the mighty All Blacks, but in comparison to 2016, what we have seen in 2017 is light years ahead of where they were.

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