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That sinking feeling

On Saturday, watching both the All Blacks and the Wallabies scrape home in the dying seconds, I was reminded of Jack Nicholson’s comment when he received an Oscar for his performance in “As good as it gets”. You may recall that “Titanic” was the movie which swept the Academy Awards that year.

When Nicholson accepted his trophy, he said, with that typical lopsided grin: “And all night long I had that sinking feeling.”

My colleague Bobby believes that, nine times out of ten, the team to kick a penalty in the opening minutes, will lose the match, particularly where the teams are relatively evenly matched. This sadly proved true for both Ireland and Wales, who played excellent rugby, and still lost.

The time between the finish of the sad loss by Wales (it would have been their first victory since 1969) and the kick-off at Coca-Cola Park, was one of my longest Saturday afternoons in a long time. I could not have been more tense if I was playing for the ‘Boks myself.

After eight minutes into the SA/England test, I relaxed. In fact, as the game neared the half way stage, I almost started feeling sorry for the visiting side. Almost.

At halftime I posted on Facebook that the only real test facing us in the second half would be whether we had the required killer instinct. I now regret having done that. The final result was far too close for my liking. This time our weak half, as has almost become the norm, was the second one. In the rarefied air of the Highveld we should have buried them. Instead they came dangerously close to toppling us.

Like most Bok supporters, I started looking at what we did wrong, rather than giving the English side credit for not lying down after the whipping of the first half. Hats off to them. Their replacements made a very positive difference, unlike ours. This was another reversal from last Saturday, when Coenie Ooshuizen and Ruan Pienaar seriously lifted the standard of our play.

JP Pietersen

JP Pietersen

Two players who showed great improvement from last week were JP Pietersen and, particularly, Pierre Spies. Maybe he was told that some of the fans were contemplating placing a new “Spear” painting in the Goodman Gallery?

Werner Kruger, unfortunately, did not have nearly the same impact as Coenie, and Wynand Olivier showed that he is no more than an adequate Super series rugby player. Ruan Pienaar did nothing wrong, but in contrast to last week, did not have a marked impact on the game. This could possibly be ascribed to our problems in the scrum in the second half. In all fairness, Francois Hougaard more than made up for last week’s underperformance.

Die gedwonge veranderinge as gevolg van beserings het beslis ’n groot rol gespeel om die span se ritme in die tweede helfte te versteur. Willem Alberts se brute krag was baie meer werd as die subtiele spel van Keegan Daniel, hoewel laasgenoemde se verdediging goud werd was toe die Engelse die krane oopgedraai het.

Nou ja, toe die stof gaan lê na die eindfluitjie, toe het ons gewen, maar daardie “sinking feeling” was vir veertig minute lank, saam met die hol kol op my maag, bitterlik onsmaaklik.

Soos wat die Stormers onlangs ’n kritieke tekort aan losskakels ervaar het as gevolg van beserings, lyk dit of die Bokke dieselfde pad loop op heelagter. As Pat Lambie wel ligamente beseer het, was dit dalk ’n fout om hom te laat aanhou speel. Met Frans Steyn se onbeskikbaarheid Saterdag moet daar dus ‘n plaasvervanger gekies word. Gio Aplon bied basies dieselfde opsies as Lambie, en behoort daar te speel.

Was ek Heyneke Meyer, sou ek dit ernstig oorweeg om vir Juan de Jongh in Francois Steyn se plek te kies. Sy samespel met Habana, De Villiers en Aplon maak hom ’n beter keuse as Olivier.

Franco van der Merwe behoort uiteindelik sy kans te kry as Juandré Kruger nie reg is nie. Jaques Potgieter in die plek van Alberts, behoort saam met Marcel Coetzee vreesaanjaend te wees.

Die lewe van ’n rugby liefhebber is soms ook maar hel: selfs op Vadersdag.

Junior RWC

En daar stof ons die jong Argentyne af in die reën. Die jongelinge se spel was dalk nie ’n ware refleksie van waartoe hulle in staat is nie, gegewe die omstandighede. Tog bly ons lynstane onbevredigend. Teen die junior All Blacks sal ons nie weer sulke foute kan begaan nie.

Wat my baie opgewonde stem, is die kwaliteit plaasvervangers wat bestem is om spelers soos Jean de Villiers en Morné Steyn te vervang. Beide Johan Goosen en Handré Pollard kan ’n nuwe dimensie aan ons agterlynspel verskaf, terwyl Jan Serfontein alles en nog meer het wat mens van jou spelskepper op binnesenter verwag.

Vrydag is die groot toets – die geleentheid om die junior All Blacks vir die eerste keer ooit van die titel te ontneem.

Ons het die personeel. Dit gaan net afhang van hoe ons die wedstrydplan uitvoer.

Ek het hoop.

PK the DJ

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