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On the verge…

We are all set for the last day. England were set a mammoth 346 runs to win and so square the series to cling to their number 1 ranking. As things stand, England are 16/2 as both of their openers, Cook and Strauss, are out. Both fell victim to some sublime bowling by Vernon Philander. The English require a further 330 runs to win and the Proteas need 8 wickets.

Days like these are few and far in between. After all said and done, it comes down to a final innings to achieve what the Proteas set out to do on this tour – to become the number one test nation in the world.

For England the setting is somewhat different – they must win the test; they need to make the play and the pressure of failure is huge as the consequence is relinquishing the top spot as well as careers. The English media will be looking to place blame if the result is a failure.

Keep in mind this is all playing off at the “home of cricket” Lords. The proud heritage and history, on its own, is a heavy burden. Add the chaotic selection saga they had with Kevin Pietersen leading up to this test, the inclusion of 2 relatively new players in their top order in Bairstow and Taylor as well as a fifth day pitch, and you will agree: the pressure is kind of huge on England.

I mentioned in a previous post of the Protea hunger and a clinical and ruthless approach. Well it has been set up gentlemen – you have 330 runs to get 8 wickets in – for your supporters, your team and most importantly for yourself: go and get it done!

Go Proteas!!!
– By Bobby Londt

Staying Dissatisfied

While watching the test again on Sunday I was reminded of a saying I came across in my earlier life: “One must stay ever dissatisfied in an ever improving situation”.

This about sums up my view of the Springbok match on Saturday. There was certainly a lot more cohesion and fluidity, compared to the last drawn test against England. The loss of a key player in the third minute did little to upset the rhythm, and Strauss was a more than adequate stand-in for the number one hooker in world rugby.

What really surprised me was seeing at one stage that we had opted on no less than 5 occasions not to kick at goal, despite the excellent form of Morné Steyn in this department. Can we read a new maturity, based on confidence, in this? No doubt, this would not have been the case against the All Blacks, but the fact that two tries resulted from this must be a huge injection for the skipper and his team mates.

Two question marks concern the rolling mauls and lack of intensity in the second half.

We did manage to score one try from a rolling maul, but for 90% of the rest, we were mauling backwards. It was almost as if Argentina saw us coming, and stopped us in our tracks. When Ruan Pienaar came on, we suddenly found the ball going wider a lot quicker, and our backs looked a lot more threatening.

One could argue that the Pumas came back strongly in the second half. My view is that we allowed them to do so by losing our intensity, and allowing them to gain momentum. We knew that their game plan centred around the rolling maul and the high kick and charge. In the latter department, Kirchner did an extremely good job at nullifying the impact to a large degree, as did Bryan Habana out of position on the right wing.

All in all, a satisfactory win, but we are not yet where we can be. At least we have identified development areas, particularly the breakdown area, where the Wallabies and All Blacks will ask even more serious questions.

Talking of which – did you also get the idea that the All Blacks secured the game, and then changed gears to cruise home? The Wallabies committed hara-kiri behind their own goal line on a number of occasions when they tried to run themselves out of trouble. As the song goes:

“You’ve got know when to hold ‘em/Know when to fold ‘em…”

Ou Manie is van die ou skool, en was baie opgewonde toe hy hoor dat Earl Rose, volgens berigte, die naweek ‘n groot impak gemaak het. Dis nie seker vir wie hy gespeel het nie, want hy was skynbaar hemploos in die vroeë oggndure in die bittere Kaapse koue. Van die omstanders vermoed dat hy dalk verward geraak het met dié dat hy dog hy ry rigting Weskus, en toe doem die Ooskus voor hom op.

Earl Rose

Earl Rose

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Vrede, vriende.
– By Paul Kruger

 

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