Nog Een Vir Die Bokke: Another One for the Boks

Sanjay DevaCorrespondent IAugust 29, 2009

PERTH, AUSTRALIA - AUGUST 29:  Bryan Habana of the Springboks evades a tackle by Luke Burgess of the Wallabies during the 2009 Tri Nations series match between the Australian Wallabies and the South African Springboks at Subiaco Oval on August 29, 2009 in Perth, Australia.  (Photo by Paul Kane/Getty Images)

The Nelson Mandela plate returns to South Africa as the Springboks beat the Wallabies 33-25 in their Tri-nations encounter at Subiaco Oval, Perth.

It was another brutal victory from the Springboks who changed tactics slightly from their first three performances in the Tri-nations.

Before the match I was surprised to hear Aussie commentator Greg Martin say the "Springboks looked arrogant." I'm not quite sure how they did that, but many in Australia thought the Springboks decision to arrive so late before the game showed disrespect.

I'd say it was more disrespectful for the media not to find out why the Springboks arrived as late as they did, for they had plenty of valid reasons. In the end their decision was vindicated anyway.

Once again the Springboks started brilliantly. The Wallabies made errors, and were surprised from some of the Springbok tactics to run directly at the Wallaby midfield. It allowed the Springboks to gain momentum, get over the advantage line, and it was difficult for the Wallabies to knock the Boks back.

A brilliant lineout where the ball was first mauled upfield, followed by transfer to the left flank got the Springboks going forward and awarded a penalty.

Fourie du Preez ever the intelligent reader of a situation, took a quick tap as he has so often done in the past and it produced a try. Playing his 50th test, it was a fitting moment for the World's premier scrumhalf.

Just five minutes later Jacque Fourie hit the ball at pace from a scrum and the Springboks were in again. It was simply just perfect timing and a little swerve that produced a try.

For all those who say the rules don't allow teams to score tries, this showed just how simple it can be. Rather than blame rules, teams should look for creativity and solutions to producing tries such as these.

Almost inexplicably Morne Steyn missed the conversion from virtually right in front. It's almost the only place he can miss from these days! Luckily it didn't have a telling effect on the game. At this point the Springboks were dominant, the Wallabies were psychologically scarred and having to play catch-up rugby the entire game.

Once the Springboks kicked a penalty and moved to a 15-0 lead, having a three-score buffer proved to be far too much for the Wallabies to come back from.

They did enjoy a good period leading up to half-time, where with ball in hand they started to pose serious questions of the Springbok defence. However the addition of two penalties was never going to be enough to seriously put them back into contention.

A try from Bryan Habana resulted from a great up and under, superb chasing and good finishing. A halftime score of 22-6 allowed a mental comfort zone from the Boks.

The Wallabies however scored early from a good build-up and Matt Giteau is always a dangerous customer close to the ruck with his fancy stepping.

The Wallabies were then able to get back into the game through their scrum. Bryce Lawrence was penalising the Springboks, and I'm not sure how justified all the penalties were, as the Springbok front row was starting to get frustrated. The net effect was the Australians were able to enjoy strong territorial advantage and get back into the game.

The Springbok defence held up magnificently and when Habana missed a chance for a try in the corner, they worked a superb set move from scrum close to the Wallaby line to send Habana in untouched. At 29-13 the game was over.

With 6 minutes to go and a 19 point lead, the Wallabies were the side showing greater desperation and they worked two good tries when the Springboks had sealed the game.

A final scoreline of 32-25 probably flattered the Aussies, and I was surprised to hear Robbie Deans and some of the Aussie commentary team say they were only one score away in this contest. In my view, the game was effectively over mid-way through the second half and the Springboks took their foot off the accelerator and became defensive.

Overall I thought the Boks played well initially and then became less accurate as the match wore on. They looked impressive with ball in hand, and showed tactically they can mix it up and play whatever the situation demands. Worryingly the scrum was shambolic, and work will have to be done there.

The defence by and large was quite solid, and they had to make many tackles in the game. There is plenty still to work on, whilst I thought the Wallabies actually took a step backwards in their development this season.

They'll welcome back the return of Nathan Sharpe and Berrick Barnes, but they perhaps need to try something different to try and overcome a confident, well-oiled Springbok machine.

It was pleasing to see the humility of the Springboks in victory. Neither John Smit nor Peter de Villers felt they had to answer the critics, preferring instead to focus on playing what is ahead of them, and ensuring winning rugby is the first order of the day.

I think this Bok side is deceptive. It focuses on percentage rugby, involving a lot of kicking, but it has great class in the backline and can shift the ball and produce more running rugby of required. Much like the Bulls showed in the Super 14.

For the Springboks it was a good team effort with plenty of strong individual performances. The balance of the side is awesome with very few weaknesses. However injury concerns for Bakkies Botha and JP Pietersen could see changes forced upon the side.

Next week we move onto Brisbane, a traditionally unhappy venue for the Boks. Two Log points will seal the Tri-nations for 2009. Lets hope we can wrap it up and ensure another week of misery for the Wallabies!

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