These 3 letters probably sum up how most of us felt after George Clancy blew the final whistle of a historic test match at Suncorp Stadium. The Boks, during a stanza that lasted no longer than 11 minutes, managed to play some of the best rugby we have seen from our team in the last 10 years. We scored a bloody bonus point against Australia at a venue where we have never previously won and did so scoring tries using backline players!
Its great to be positive and happy for a change about our game, and in as much as we as fans need to stay objective it feels wonderful to be able to lift our heads and be proud of our boys. However this test match should be viewed in two very different sections, namely what happened before and what happened after Jean De Villiers scored.
We started off in a way no different to how we have been starting test matches for the last 10 years. We play the percentages and we do the basics well and we have an ‘aggro’ about us. Coenie Oosthuyzens try reminded me so much of the 2009 Lions series in that we built tremendous pressure off a line-out and with sheer will and power drove our way over with Coenie bulldozing through at pace.
The Springboks then, as we have done often in the past 10 years,decided to hand over the initiative to our opponents with aimless kicks by Pienaar and Steyn- locks who kick ball away and incoherent passing off set pieces with forwards lounging around in the backline taking flat passes that amount to nothing! For literally 10 minutes before Jean scored, we reverted back to that Bok style that I so detest – you know- the one where we surrender possession in the hope that our opponent will make a mistake and we can score 3 points without playing any rugby.
Australia during this time played with 14 men after Hooper got sin-binned.– yet nothing in our body language suggested we wanted to punish them and take the game beyond them. This was as frustrating a period of rugby as any the Boks have dished up in recent years. This was the Boks being our favourite ‘number two in the world’ team. That’s section one.
Section two starts with Jean drawing Folau and putting Habana in space on the left touchline. The result was a great try for our captain and suddenly a hopeless Australian team were playing catch-up. This try galvanised us as much as it took the wind out of the Ozzies – yet in the context of the game was against the run of play and slightly fortuitous in that Flip managed to regather Habana’s kick after initially losing control of the ball. A great try was scored – but you will not convince me that we actively planned to score a try during that stage of the game. Instead we looked all too happy at that stage to just sit back and win by 3 with a manic defensive effort.
Our players however decided to have a real crack at it, and they managed to score some great tries – as we have done at Loftus against Australia last year. We as fans know the Boks can play this type of rugby – but often I get the feeling that our team is not actively coached to dominate our opponents like we did on Saturday. Just look at Soweto and Mendoza as clear examples of the Janus-faced nature of our rugby psyche. This team is yet to convince me that we have turned a corner in this regard. We know we CAN win in style, but we are happy to JUST win and stay number two.
The Boks, during that 11 minutes – were in my mind real Springboks. Those magic men in green who can do everything – not just maul and kick and win by 3. New Zealand never expects to lose a test match – and they always play as if they want to put 30 past every team they play against – and more often than not they succeed. I will join the bandwagon when I see signs that we want to be the best team in the world and bliksem people off the park and dominate the scoreboard as we have done at Loftus last year and again in Soweto and Brisbane. Saturdays match contained that nice little stanza -but I still argue that the way in which we ended up winning this match was never planned.
We are still happy with merely winning. Being able to dominate and smash teams are to us still a luxury manufactured by a few flashy moves on any given Saturday when our players feel lucky. I therefore doubt that we would have won this game by much had Jean’s try not arrived at that exact moment – this despite dominating an out-of-sorts Australian side in every facet of the game. Auckland is a great place to shut up doubters like me once and for all,and I cannot wait to be proved wrong!