A reader recently sent me an e-mail that read: What distinguishes a good Scotch from an ordinary dram? One double makes you think you’re single.
This quite accurately sums up what happened on Saturday when the Springboks thrashed Scotland in the first half, and then, in turn, got badly mauled in the second half.
Breyton Paulse, on Twitter, said: ”One thing we pass with flying colours is DEFEND. Hopefully we’ll work out the other component in the future. It starts with an A? Anybody know?”
There is no doubt in my mind that the second half was a combination of fatigue and a loss of concentration after building up a comfortable lead in the first half. The easy try scored by the Scots also did wonders for their confidence after being hit by the physicality of our pack on defence, and the strong driving by Alberts and Etzebeth, in particular.
A positive aspect, after the event, is hearing Adriaan Strauss accepting responsibility for the number of penalties conceded, rather than blaming the referee. I am sure that CJ van der Linde’s problems can be cured in practice, but a substitute coming on and conceding two penalties and then a yellow card in a matter of minutes, is a lumbering liability, and he needs to left off the bench for a game or two.
Talking of Adriaan Strauss; like Schalk Burger in his wild and woolly days, that blond mop is very noticeable, and can attract the attention of a referee quite easily, especially when you are sailing close to the wind. On Saturday, it highlighted his extremely high work rate, and justified his inclusion as a more than worthy substitute for Bismarck.
If the Boks continued the second half in the same way as the first, I have no doubt that we would have seen Jacko Taute come on for the last twenty minutes. As it turned out, the solidity of Kirchner at fullback was required for the whole match, and he never looked under threat.
Shame, I really felt for the Scottish commentator when they were on the attack and then launched that kick into our goal area, where Kirchner could even run a little before simply dotting down. Words to the effect that he had, in all his years in rugby, never seen a more useless kick.
I know the feeling, sir.
All’s well that ends well. After losing to Australia, the English have some homework to do before meeting the Boks this weekend. There should not be any lack of motivation against the old foe. I just hope and pray that we can muster the last of our energy for two good halves on Saturday.
I leave you with the following comment published in the Independent on Sunday.
So many questions came to the surface at Twickenham, you could weep for the pressure on England’s coach Stuart Lancaster as he attempts to supply a few answers before the South Africans arrive at the end of the week.
Yet the biggest inquiry of all really needs to go not to the man who less than a year ago was given the job of repairing a ruined professional culture but to the hierarchy of the Rugby Union. It asks simply this: if Australia’s latest wunderkind Michael Hooper’s English father, a forward of relatively modest accomplishment with Blackheath, had stayed at home, would Saturday’s man of the match have looked quite so capable of stepping so easily into the fabled boots of such as George Smith and David Pocock?
When the English press gets this despondent, it actually becomes quite amusing.
Lekker rus Ou Grote. Saterdag is nog ver, maar ten minste begin die krieket teen die Aussies Donderdag. Hopelik kan die manne in wit ons inspireer teen die bleekbene wat deesdae in snaakse klere en kleure speel.