There will be enough hot air spewed on other platforms over what transpired in Auckland. I choose to analyze the match using the Duckworth Lewis Method: When Bissie went off for the red card, we were behind by 7 points and if we have to stop the game right there and then, we still lose.
I further felt the Boks were not the right frame of mind in Auckland to steal a famous win. I base this on the fact that our forward pack was all too happy to pump their fists in the air after dominating the first scrum yet to a man could be seen falling off tackles during open play shortly after the scrum. Something was not right,and as captain Jean De Villiers afterwards remarked – something was missing in our defense on the day.
We employed roughly the same tactic in the first half as we did against Australia but only this time did not chase the kicks with vigor or support each other in close contact. As a result the Kiwis could, despite losing the breakdown contest comprehensively – make yards every time the ball was in open play. We gave them too much space and you never beat New Zealand doing so.
To me its more important how we now respond to this game, and the signs are there that we are 100% on the right track mentally when our coach is the first to admit that you cannot blame the ref for losing a game if you play this poorly. To have our captain echo his words is simply refreshing. Our heads are in the right place guys, and this gives me great joy despite the disappointment of seeing us play so badly after the promise of Brisbane.
What should be of concern to Hyeneke on the home leg now is the inconsistency of performance he gets from his players. This Bok team seems to be the kind who can win a stunning semi-final only to lose the final by 30 points – and this is not the kind of clay a coach wants to work with.
There is no use in apportioning blame to individuals – yet Meyer will have to sit back and assess which players have a great work rate one week only to dip the next. And then to understand why this is so. Jannie Du Plessis is perhaps the most striking example of a player who shone in Brisbane only to seem off the pace in Auckland. However I have a hunch that Jannie is suffering from burn-out after a season which saw him play an awful lot of rugby.
Tactically there is not much one can argue with. We have to trust Meyer and his team and their gameplan which worked well when executed properly in Soweto and Brisbane. Add to this the fact that mentally we seem to be in a healthy space with a coach and a captain who fronts up when it is so easy to blame what was a downright incompetent display by the referee and his assistants.
What is lacking is the kind of consistency from our players which a coach needs to plan accurately for all eventualities. Do we find this consistency by making a few key changes – or are other factors involved? One thing is for sure – we will have learned a great deal from this loss, and in that sense – losing at times can be a great a boon. As the old saying goes: “you are only a loser if you dont learn from it.”