Let’s have a look at 5 key points from the Springboks’ defeat to Wales

My word the South Africa/Wales game was a tough match to watch. In what was a half-baked occasion with many rightly criticizing World Rugby for putting this fixture in, the game was not a good spectacle for international rugby, despite the best efforts of Washington DC to put on a show.

For all of Washington’s prestige and history, being a rugby hotbed is not one of them. Barely 20 000 fans turned up to see Wales come out on top 22-20 over the Springboks, in a scrappy affair where the referee’s whistle dominated proceedings.

Warren Gatland will be happy to take his squad to Argentina with a win under their belt. Whether he learned much from this contest remains to be seen, given that there were seven new caps in the Springboks side, who had only arrived into the USA two days prior.


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With only two days preparation in America it was not surprising that South Africa looked disjointed and disorganized.

However, from England’s perspective, there was much that they could take away as the first test at Johannesburg hones into view this Saturday.

Springbok ascendancy upfront not utilized
It was always going to be a difficult task for the new Springbok coach Rassie Erasmus to get his team up to speed at test match pace against a good side like Wales with little preparation given the Super Rugby commitments.

Add in a six-month absence from test match rugby and a virtually new team, South Africa did well to be in the game right up until the last few minutes.

That was the positive to come out for Erasmus; his young charges were willing and committed, especially in the tight, where they had the better of Wales, particularly in the scrums.

South Africa dominated at the breakdown
What will concern Erasmus was the truly epic performance by new Welsh captain Ellis Jenkins, who was quite magnificent at the breakdown, where he caused all kinds of problems to the massive South African forwards. It was like watching England in Scotland or in Paris during this year’s Six Nations, with the bigger forwards getting isolated and being constantly turned over.


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This area of the game will be crucial in the upcoming series, as England’s struggles have been well documented at the breakdown. Eddie Jones should be looking at Tom Curry as his openside, with the Sale youngster having had a cracking game against the Barbarians the weekend before last. Curry’s mobility and smaller frame could be exactly what England need against the Springbok forwards.

Lack of game management by the Springboks
The other area of the Welsh match, which will give England hope, was the general lack of game management and direction by South Africa. We will, of course, see a much-changed lineup for the first test this weekend, so one cannot read too much into the Springboks’ performance in Washington. But what was clear is how rusty South Africa was.

If England gets their preparation right, particularly with their discipline, which has been poor over the last year, then they have a great chance in Johannesburg.

Elton Jantjies, the mercurial Lions flyhalf, had a tough day at the office on Saturday and was outplayed by Gareth Anscombe, his opposite number. Jantjies is undoubtedly talented but Erasmus may go for the size and tactical nous of Handre Pollard, the Blue Bull, or possibly the even bigger Robert du Preez, who has had a good season for the Sharks.

What tactics will the Springboks employ against England?
South Africa did not take advantage of their scrummaging superiority and they looked short of inspiration out wide to cause the Welsh problems with the pace they had on the wings. Erasmus this week to work out what tactics they want to employ against England to make the most of their pace on the wings and their power up front.


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England needs to heed the warning that the traditional strengths of South African rugby upfront are alive and well. With the return of expat giants like Bismarck du Plessis and Duane Vermeulen from the French Top 14, England will be facing an onslaught of power.

But as Castres showed in the Top 14 final on Saturday evening, size is not everything, as their smaller pack had the upper hand against a Montpellier forward unit who was laden with huge South African forwards, bruise brothers Bismarck and Jannie du Plessis among them.

All to play for in the England/South Africa series
The Springboks, despite the result in Washington, have shown glimpses of what they could do against England, especially with the resources they have up front. On the flip side of that coin, England can also look forward to this series knowing that they will take on a South African side very much in transition.

Eddie Jones’ men have a big opportunity in the first test at Ellis Park, which they have to take if they are to win this hugely anticipated series.


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Looking for a cheap flight or would you like to rent a vehicle?visit SKY.co.za now!

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