It was back to blunt force trauma for the Boks who’s top 3 ball carriers were forwards, this while the mistake ridden All Blacks conceded turnovers and missed tackles. Tank takes a trawl through the match stats …
It was as brutal and as spirited as it comes from the Boks as they reverted to a bulldozer approach upfront. An approach that saw Pieter-Steph du Toit make 20 carries, Steven Kitshoff 15, Eben Etzebeth 14, and the omnipresent Malcolm Marx 13.
Four of the Bok’s top five ball carriers were forwards.
On the other side of the field, the fleet footed Damian McKenzie lead the charge with 17 carries. He was one of four backs in the top five ball carriers for the All Blacks. The others being Sonny Bill Williams (13), Rieko Ioane (10), and Ryan Crotty on nine.
Talk about contrasting game plans.
As such, the visitors made 7.7m per carry while the Boks made 6. The All Blacks made more line breaks, while the Boks took aim at people to make a whopping 19 tackle breaks. The Boks looked to set up rucks and thus won 136 of them, while the visitors were happy to avoid the breakdown, winning only 89 rucks.
It was intensely physical from the Boks, who were quite clearly up for the game.
Unlike the visitors, who were uncharacteristically sloppy, conceding 21 turnovers, missing 39 tackles and making a coach killing 41 handling errors.
There for the taking, had the feisty Boks kicked and scrummed a little better, the result could well have gone the other way. Tighthead prop Ruan Dreyer had another difficult day at the office, giving away 3 scrum penalties, this while taking heat from Kiwi loosehead Kane Hames as the Boks also lost 2 scrums.
On the face of it, the kicking stats might look OK. The Boks kicked 5 more times than their visitors to carve off 720 meters at 33m per kick – 6 more than the All Blacks. But 10 of those kicks came from scrumhalf Ross Cronje, and those 6 extra meters saw most of his kicks gift the opposition the ball instead of presenting a contestable situation.
From 57-0 in Albany to 24-25 in Cape Town. The improvement is undeniable. Get a few more things right, like the scrumming and kicking, together with a more direct approach out back – the Boks were again very lateral – and this side will be competitive.
A look at all the match stats