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Halfway to paradise

Mutual music maniacs may have heard echoes of this Billy Fury song after the final whistle blew in the match between the All Blacks and the Springboks on Saturday. In particular, the final refrain: “Don’t lead me halfway to paradise – so near, yet so far away.”

Bobby commented this morning on the excellent discipline displayed by both sides. It is sign of two opponents who respect each other, yet give their all, knowing that one lapse of concentration can be fatal.

The highlight of the test for me was how disappointed the Boks were after the game – they really believed that they could win, and nowhere was it more evident than in how Duane Vermeulen exchanged blow for blow, proverbially, with Kieran Read and eventually won on points.

The stats show that we kicked tactically on 15 occasions, and the All Blacks 14 times. The difference was that they secured the ball 3 times, and we not once. Unfortunately, Hougaardt failed to maintain the effectiveness of Pienaar when the latter was injured – I counted at least four useless kicks in a row from hard-won possession.

Putting one over the Aussies

The special gesture from Richie McCaw in giving Jean de Villiers a bottle of Champagne after his 100th match just added to my respect for the maturity of the All Blacks and their skipper.

When they also presented Bryan Habana with his present to celebrate his ton last week, I thought at least some Aussies would have been red-faced for not having done the same after he achieved centurion status against them last week.

Pienaar’s replacement

I find it hard to fathom Heyneke’s thinking in replacing the injured Ruan Pienaar with JP Pietersen. Bobby’s view is that he actually wants extra cover at outside centre, as there is no way we can replace the incumbent wings. It may also be interpreted as a vote of no confidence in Damien de Allende.

Ironically, Jean de Villiers played outside centre for much of his career, and Jan Serfontein is actually a recycled inside centre who did fantastically well on Saturday. Having only two players in a specialist position like scrumhalf makes little sense to me. One would have thought that it would be the ideal situation to bring another player into the group and get him used to the set-up.

I have a suspicion that Pat Lambie and Cobus Reinach may be picked for the match at Newlands against Australia on 27 September, with Hougaard back on the bench. The latter’s only saving grace at this stage is his experience, but I wonder how much real game time he had in his test career of 30 odd matches.

I am very interested in your views on who the third scrumhalf should be. Please comment on our blog.

Moonstone/Getwine Superbru Pool

When I announced the pool, I mentioned that the ladies have not stood back when it came to reading the games, and this pool is no exception. Melissa van Rensburg wen hierdie week, vir die tweede maal, ons weeklikse prys van ses bottels wyn met die komplimente van Getwine, ons borge. Baie geluk, Mel.

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