The second tri-nations test 2011
South Africa 7 / New Zealand 40
It was a comprehensive drumming; 6 tries to 1. Carter had a rare off day with the boot and missed the first 5 conversions; another 10 points that went a-begging which would have taken New Zealand to a half century.
Well I predicted a massacre and the match panned out more or less as I predicted but it gives me no pleasure in stating: ‘I told you so’. It still -and will forever- hurts like hell.
The teams can be seen on these two clips.
The anthem was one for the conspirators. The lady who sang the South African anthem really butchered the Afrikaans part and probably the other parts as well as she know none of the African languages in the anthem. Worst was however the sound system which clearly had a connection problem. Was this done on purpose as there was no problem with New Zealand anthem? I’ll leave that one for the conspiracy fans.
Apart from the team selection and the anthem South Africa’s problems started right from the kick-off. In fact every kick-off by Morné Steyn was way too deep (was this on instruction? I doubt because when Lambie kicked-off after Steyn left the field it was a lot better). The second try resulted directly from the kick-off being too deep. Notice in the clip the amount of time and the ease with which the All Blacks handled the first kick-off. Considering that the AB had big problems in this department last week against Fiji it absolutely astounds me that South Africa did not target this as an area of probable vulnerability. Ali Williams had more than enough time to a catch the ball and drive it up.
Most revealing of this clip is how the All Blacks in contrast with South Africa immediately targets three possible areas of vulnerability in the Springbok team. First they ruck the ball up to test whether South Africa has done anything to sort the lack of physical presence at the breakdowns so evident last week against the Wallabies. Second they immediately test Lambie with McCaw running straight at him and then once they recycled the ball Carter immediately tests Steyn on fullback.
They tested Lambie again soon afterwards (as can be seen in the next clip) and when he again tackles effectively they check South Africa’s defence out wide. Not only does this produce the first penalty when Kruger got caught off-side but more importantly the All Blacks learned three things about the Springbok team in this early exchanges. Firstly, that the Springboks wait to tackle behind the advantage line and don’t rush-up to meet the attackers; two, Steyn’s positional play is suspect and; three, South Africa’s wingers tend to move infield on defence leaving space on the outside.
They then went on and scored both their first two tries exploiting these vulnerabilities. This first penalty is in essence the result of the ‘Boks moving up rather slowly in defence giving the All Blacks way to much space to get across the advantage line. South Africa’s defence at the breakdowns is also weak in the sense that they had no problems forcing the Springboks back in the tackle.
The All Backs learned one more thing before they scored their first try and that is that the Springboks will give them no problems in the scrum. As can be seen in the clip below they had no difficulty pushing us back in the first scrum.
The first try started from a scrum just outside South Africa’s 10-meter line. It is the right shoulder they obtained in this scrum which allowed Thompson to pick the ball up behind scrum and pass it to Cowan who have shifted wide creating space for himself. The South African flankers are slow to rush-up and Cowan had no problems in running into Channel 1 and crossing the advantage line. Pienaar had to run from the other side of the scrum to tackle Cowan but he off-load to Nonu who then proceeds to ran through the Springbok midfield creating depth forcing the South African defensive line to break-up. They recycle briskly a couple of times going left and right before Cowan unceremoniously push John Smit out of the way before attacking the blindside. He hands the ball to Conrad Smit who draws the defenders before sending Crocket over for a try.
Main thing that produce this try was dominance in the scrum and at the rucks which culminated in lack of pressure on Cowan. Cowan had way too much time to run with the ball (three times in this try) and to make decisions.
The second try –like last week- came right from the kick-off. The kick-off is too deep and Ali Williams is under no pressure when he catches it and ruck it up pushing at least two defenders backwards in process of setting the ball up.
Deysel rush-up just a little too fast and that breaks the defensive line sufficiently for Carter to stab the ball through behind the defensive line of the Springboks. Steyn is sitting too deep on fullback giving Nonu time to get too the ball. It is, however, the speed at which the All Black forwards arrive at the ruck and recycle the ball which produces the try.
Notice only Hardgreaves and Steyn for South Africa at the ruck while at least 5 New Zealand forwards -all under a blanket- rush over the ball. This creates the bizarre situation that the South Africans -in an attempt to get back in position to take up their defensive position- are actually side by side with the All Black backs as they speed past them towards the Springbok goal line.
This is a classic example of the modern game. Punch holes without contact if possible by letting the ball do the work –with tactical stab kicks or offloads- and then numbers and explosiveness at the tackle area to recycle briskly before sending the ball with long passes away from the contact. Depth, speedy re-alignment, explosive recycling followed by width is the name of the modern game.
The next clip demonstrates the ease at which NZ dominated at the breakdowns. The kick-off is again too deep and NZ made a mess of it and had to start from their own goal line but had no difficulty in driving the Springboks back up to their 22-meter line. The Springboks were shockingly ineffective at the tackle area; no physical presence whatsoever. Schalk Burger, Juan Smit, Willem Alberts, Bakkies Botha, Bismarck and Beast were seriously missed at the breakdowns.
The best Springboks players at the rucks were in order Rossouw (10 rucks), Juan de Jongh (9), Deysel and Mostert (both on 8) and John Smit (6) the rest just were not present at the rucks. It was the lack of presence of the Springbok tight forwards at the breakdowns which saw them losing the battle at the collisions and which made their tackling so ineffective.
The ease at which the All Blacks were able to take the ball wide was another problem and due to the fact that the Springboks waited in the defence as opposed to going up and tackling behind the defensive line. See in the following clip the slowness with which the Springboks moved up in defence and how players would stop halfway waiting for the All Blacks to come to them instead of running up pressurising an attempt to limit space and time.
Notice also the single numbers of Springboks at the tackle area as compared to the multiple numbers of All Blacks. Midway through the clip Crocket demonstrate outstanding bridging technique namely grabbing and holding on to the shirt of the player on the ground as well as low hip position and a straight back with the head facing upwards. Kruger unsuccessfully tries to counter ruck him off the ball. I hope Kruger take cognisance of Crockets technique as he was counter rucked off the ball with relative ease -due to poor bridging technique- last weekend by the Wallabies.
Lastly, notice right at the end of the clip how out of line the Springbok defenders go up in defence and how New Zealand have a three player overlap outside Basson because of the latter moving inward away from the touchline on defence.
Basson produced the 3rd All Blacks try with two super silly possession handovers. First, on attack he flips the ball to a defender and then later he launches a very poor kick right into the hands of an All Black. There was space at the back and a better executed kick could have worked but he executed poorly and with the Springbok defence already at sixes and sevens due to the long preceding stretch of open play Cory Jane had no difficulty handing off Stegman to go and score.
The next two clips is first one of John Smit’s try (which happened before the NZ third try) and then one of NZ’s fourth try. The New Zealand fourth try was mainly produced by Nonu taking it up sucking in two backline defenders, quick recycling and a gutsy bounce pass. Depth again before width.
The fifth New Zealand try was produced by two off-loads in the tackle. First, Sonny Bill Williams and then Nonu. There was some good inter passing with Zac Guilford running himself brilliantly into space. Most impressive is the speed at which this All Black team recycle the ball.
The sixth New Zealand try is one of the best tries from set piece I’ve seen in a very long time. An absolutely stunning try. The try starts at a line-out and Weepu doubles around to receive the ball from Carter after he have dummied to Cory Jane coming in as a dummy runner. Weepu feinted to pass to Sonny Bill Williams -another dummy runner on an inside angle- before sending it to Slade running with speed from deep onto the ball. There were some quick hands from Mills Muliana to get the ball to Guilford on the outside. Guilford then passed inside to Slade in space for a brilliant try.
Essentially the All Back backline just had too much space and time.
Only a few Springboks came out of this match with enhanced reputations. Lambie proved he can tackle, Mostert played well in the line-out taking his own ball and contributed in the rucks. Danie Rossouw had another good game and Chiliboy had a one good run surprising everyone with his speed but he was lively in the loose and came out of this match looking like he wants to be there and as if he belongs in the squad.
De Jongh worked hard at the rucks but was disappointing with decision making on attack. John Smit had a reasonable game but one wouldn’t say he enhanced his reputation. This test like the one last weekend against the Wallabies demonstrated that Smit’s defence is becoming an increasingly bigger problem. One recalls how Nonu ran through him in Soweto last year and the way Cowen pushed him away in this game to produce the first New Zealand try did not impress at all.
Richie McCaw made an illegal turnover when Chiliboy was stopped only meters from the goal line. In the bigger scheme of things this one ‘illegal’ turnover to prevent a very a probable try wouldn’t have changed the outcome but does illustrate another significant difference between the two teams. In the final analysis it was the marginal differences in coaching, execution, and speed at the breakdowns, general experience and gamesmanship which culminated in a New Zealand team taking an inexperienced and poorly coached South African side to the cleaners.