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WHAT WE LEARNED-header
Craig Lewis

Five takeaways from past weekend


A downcast Eben Etzebeth and Allister Coetzee A downcast Eben Etzebeth and Allister Coetzee

What we learned from round four of the Rugby Championship, according to CRAIG LEWIS.

Springboks hit new low
There are few words that can suitably summarise the Boks’ historic worst-ever 57-0 defeat to the All Blacks. Perhaps the statistics tell the story best: the All Blacks scored eight tries to none, completed 550m to 299, beat 33 defenders to 18 and made 177 passes to 96. The Boks missed 33 tackles, while they lost five lineouts, three scrums and conceded 11 penalties. There were also as many as 32 handling errors. After heading into Saturday’s clash with five wins and one draw from six Tests, there was a glimmer of hope that the Boks were heading in the right direction. Instead, the Springboks were sent drastically in reverse by a peerless All Blacks team that utterly humiliated their once-proud rivals. Anyway you look at it, Saturday’s result in Albany saw the Springboks plummet to a new low.

REPORT: All Blacks pound pathetic Boks

Raymond Rhule embodied Boks’ struggles
In the lead-up to Saturday’s Test in Albany, there were concerns over the vulnerabilities of the Boks’ inconsistent back three. Those fears were ultimately realised in the most dramatic fashion as the Springboks were hopelessly exposed out wide. While it is unfair to single out any one player when one considers just how poor the Springboks were across the park, the sobering reality is that Raymond Rhule missed as many as nine tackles. The next worst (Jan Serfontein, Pieter-Steph du Toit and Sam Cane) missed three. On the day, Rhule’s perennial defensive problems came back to haunt the Boks, and effectively epitomised just how poor and porous the Springbok defence was on a dark day for South African rugby.

REACTION: Twitter reaction to record Bok loss

SA Rugby leadership, Allister Coetzee must be held accountable
Immediately after the Boks’ historic loss to the All Blacks, Allister Coetzee conducted a TV interview that would have left many observers perplexed, and perhaps even angry. Despite watching his Springbok side slip to a heaviest-ever defeat, Coetzee appeared relatively nonplussed, and went straight into a mode of denial, while even suggesting that matters could have been so different if the Boks hadn’t gifted the All Blacks soft tries early on. When commenting on the hopeless Bok defence, he denied it was all that bad. As the man at the helm, Coetzee should have accepted accountability or offered some form of meaningful explanation, while an apology to the nation would not have been out of place. The rugby-loving public deserves answers, and it’s up to Coetzee and SA Rugby’s leadership to provide them.

REACTION: 'Lot of positives' for Boks – Coetzee

All Blacks are arguably the greatest sports team of all-time
For all the criticism that will duly come the Springboks’ way, just as much praise should be afforded to the All Blacks. New Zealand’s Test performances have been somewhat erratic this year, and even led to certain suggestions that they may be vulnerable ahead of Saturday’s clash against the Boks. However, in the most emphatic fashion, the All Blacks once again demonstrated that they reside in a different stratosphere to everyone else in world rugby. The world champs produced a complete masterclass on Saturday, with their ruthlessness on attack and defence leaving the Boks in a world of pain. Frighteningly, over the past three Tests against the Boks, the All Blacks have scored 155 points to 28. They are arguably the greatest sports team in history.

WATCH: SuperSport post-match wrap

Wallabies closing in on Springboks
To add to the Boks' woes on Saturday, they would have noted with some trepidation the manner in which Australia powered past the Pumas in Canberra to claim a 45-20 bonus-point victory. It was a result that saw the Wallabies move within three log points of the second-placed Springboks, and would have set some further alarm bells ringing ahead of the upcoming clash between the two sides on 30 September in Bloemfontein. Although Australia were far from their best in the first half against Argentina, they showed just how dangerous they can be when they scored five second-half tries and conceded just one. Considering that the Boks still have to complete a return fixture against the All Blacks, they will know that Australia are breathing down their necks in search of a second-place finish in the Rugby Championship.
 
 
Photo: Phil Walter/Getty Images
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