One very clear message emerged after the feast of rugby we enjoyed over the weekend – the Northern hemisphere teams are no longer the pushovers they were in the past. They were always at a disadvantage due to the fact that this marks the start of their season, while we have a whole season behind us.
The All Blacks and the Wallabies were pushed to the limit to secure victory at the death, but managed to do. The Springboks, on Naas’s other hand, committed suicide, mainly as a result of the apparent lack of a game plan.
Chris Foy writes in the Mail Online:
“Steve Hansen’s men played the conditions far more shrewdly as England floundered deep in their own half. There was all the usual white-shirted courage and endeavour, but when it came to clever decision-making and composure under pressure, they were exposed and out-classed.”
This sums up perfectly how I saw the match at Lansdowne Road.
It is unfair to blame Hougaard alone for the defeat. Rugby is much more than even a fifteen-man game; all the players, replacements and coaching staff need to share the blame to varying degrees. I think Pieter de Villiers deserves an A for the demolition job the forwards did in the scrums, but the backline seemed out of sorts and uncertain of what they were to do.
Quite rightly, Hougaard’s fumbling had a domino effect on the rest of the team, including Pollard, but where was the brain’s trust to address by either replacing him, or changing the game plan? That is to say if there was one.
It is also amusing to read how detractors of Ruan Pienaar are suddenly bemoaning his absence, after calling for his head before. The worst of the lot are those who comment online below articles – I call them the ignoranuses, if you catch my drift?
Full credit must be given to Ireland for being the hungrier side. They tackled like Trojans, and made full use of the few opportunities that came their way, often gifted by the Springboks.
Romain Poite remains a Roman Toite, but this is something we should have prepared for, unless we were expecting him to favour us after his previous pathetic performance. Bleating about the yellow card serves no purpose. The same thing happened to the All Blacks, but they just moved up to another gear and did what was required.
Heyneke’s unbeaten record at the end-of-year tours has come to an end. If one takes a longer term perspective, this may not be so bad, after all. I would rather lose here than in the quarter- or semi-finals of RWC 2015.
On a personal note, losing against Ireland is far more palatable than doing so against England. I hope the team shares this view when we face the men in white on Saturday.
Experience the difference!
After the initial loss to the Proteas, Australia bounced back to win the T20 series with a clinical display. Both sides experimented with fringe players, excluding the more known campaigners throughout the series. It was however experience that proved the crucial difference as veteran, Cameron White, saw his side home in a close affair in Sydney to win with a ball to spare yesterday.
After a more than decent start by de Kock & Hendriks, the Proteas fell away towards the end of their innings ending with 145 – a sub-par score for the venue. Wayne Parnell proved hugely expensive going at 10.75 runs an over and serious questions must be asked about his ability at this level. It was however pleasing to see the return of Merchant de Lange although he might have wished for better return on his figures as he also proved expensive going at 8.5 runs to the over.
Robbie Peterson performed very well to get the Proteas a sniff of a possible victory with 3 wickets but Cameron White, the former T20 skipper for Australia and arguably one of the better campaigners of this short format, proved his worth by seeing his side home in the final over with 41 runs off 31 balls.
All is not lost though as the return of Amla, AB, Steyn, Morkel and Faf will change the complexion of our side massively for the ODI series.