Craig Lewis

Five takeaways from past weekend

Bok No 8 Uzair Cassiem Bok No 8 Uzair Cassiem

What we learned from the first weekend of the Rugby Championship and round six of the Currie Cup, according to CRAIG LEWIS.

Boks take another step in right direction
Last year, the Springboks required a late Warren Whiteley try to overcome the Pumas in Nelspruit, and then suffered a historic first-ever defeat in Argentina at the start of the Rugby Championship. Fast forward to the present and the Boks look to be a completely different outfit. While their performance was far from perfect against Argentina in Port Elizabeth on Saturday, the manner in which they patiently wore down the visitors and then cruised to a 37-15 win, spoke volumes about the progress this team has made. Although the Boks have had their struggles in Argentina, they should now be immensely confident of their ability to back up Saturday’s win with another comfortable result in Salta this Saturday.

ALSO READ: ‘Boks must get even better’

Coenie, Cassiem pass their tests
The Boks may have made minimal changes to their starting XV from the June series against France, but there were question marks over the balance of the loose trio, and particularly the decision to start regular flanker Uzair Cassiem at No 8. There was also attention on how Coenie Oosthuizen would perform at tighthead prop as the replacement for the injured Frans Malherbe. In the end, the two players came through Saturday’s Test with flying colours. Both forwards produced powerful, workmanlike performances that were at the heart of the Boks’ impressive forward display against Argentina, and which really helped lay the foundation for victory.

WATCH: Highlights of Springboks vs Argentina

Elton Jantjies grows in confidence
There was a sense out of the Bok camp this past week that the management have become frustrated by the media and public spotlight placed on Jantjies each time he turns out in the No 10 jersey. Although that attention may come with the territory, Jantjies certainly didn’t appear to be affected by any additional semblance of pressure. To his credit, he looked confident and composed in the flyhalf channel, while his kicking both out of hand and at goal was simply top drawer. It was another mature all-round performance from the Lions star, who continues to grow in stature on the Test stage. It was also the ideal start in terms of taking confidence into the remainder of the Rugby Championship, where greater challenges lie in wait.

ALSO READ: All Blacks make emphatic start

Wallabies feel full force of All Blacks backlash
Talk out of the New Zealand camp recently suggested that the All Blacks had been keenly awaiting the opportunity to kick off their Rugby Championship campaign in emphatic fashion. The drawn series against the British & Irish Lions was far from the desired result for the All Blacks, and everything about their first-half performance against Australia on Saturday indicated just how desperate they were to make another statement of their capabilities. The All Blacks led 54-6 at one point, after producing a performance of pure pace and power, and while the Wallabies did well to battle back, it could take nothing away from the dominance of the reigning champs.

WATCH: Highlights of Wallabies vs All Blacks

Western Province, Leyds make timely statement
There was something particularly emphatic about the manner in which Western Province dismantled the Golden Lions at Newlands on Friday night. Although Province haven’t made the most convincing start to the Currie Cup, they have now secured impressive back-to-back wins over the Blue Bulls and Lions. In particular, it was their almost faultless defence that established the platform for victory against the Lions, while they were clinical and accurate on attack. It was a performance that sent a much-needed reminder of their ability to compete at the business end of the competition. Furthermore, a standout individual performance came from Springbok Dillyn Leyds, who looked a cut above the rest as he sparked several scintillating counterattacks in the first half. It was certainly a display that would have pleased Bok coach Allister Coetzee.

ALSO READ: Jones brace sinks Lions

The Lions and Sharks scrum down

Scrum value can’t be underestimated

The set-piece battle between the Lions and Sharks on Saturday sent out another stark reminder about the match-defining perils of a malfunctioning scrum, writes CRAIG LEWIS.

Director of rugby Rassie Erasmus

Rassie’s enormous task

The Springboks’ chances at the 2019 World Cup will hinge on the changes made to the South African rugby system this season, writes JON CARDINELLI.

England captain Dylan Hartley

Bok mission against England is clear

England’s bruising battle against Wales at Twickenham served up some valuable lessons for Rassie Erasmus and South African rugby, writes JON CARDINELLI.

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