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WHAT WE LEARNED-header
Craig Lewis

Five takeaways from past weekend


Malcolm Marx takes on the All Blacks defence Malcolm Marx takes on the All Blacks defence

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

Springbok forwards made their mark
It’s not often that you see the All Blacks bossed in the physical exchanges. However, this is exactly what the Boks managed to achieve in a memorable match at Newlands on Saturday. From the outset, the hosts shocked New Zealand with their sheer physicality and intensity. On numerous occasions, the All Blacks’ big runners were knocked backwards, while forwards such as Eben Etzebeth, Malcolm Marx and Steven Kitshoff carried the ball with power and passion. Although the Boks did have some struggles at scrum time – with Ruan Dreyer again finding himself on the wrong side of the penalty count – the Bok forwards have to be commended for an immense performance.

ALSO READ: Marx, Etzebeth led brave Bok effort

Malcolm Marx is the next big thing
Marx produced his finest performance in a Bok jersey on Saturday, with the abrasive hooker making an impact all across the park. Besides conducting his primary set-piece duties with efficiency, Marx was an absolute menace at the breakdown, where he won four turnovers, while he completed 15 tackles. Besides also scoring a try, Marx made 92m with ball in hand, completed 13 carries and beat two defenders. It was just an 11th Test appearance for Marx, and the 23-year-old is set for a long and successful career in the green and gold.

ALSO READ: Kiwi newspaper gives Marx a perfect 10

Boks need to develop killer instinct, clinical edge
Considering that the Springboks enjoyed as much as 64% of possession and forced the All Blacks to make as many as 240 tackles at Newlands, they will look back on Saturday’s one-point loss as a real missed opportunity. Although such a competitive showing will virtually be viewed in as high regard as a win, the fact remains that the Boks dominated enough areas of the game to secure a memorable victory. Again, a couple of soft moments enabled New Zealand to strike on the counter-attack, while some poor decision-making cost the Boks dearly on attack at times. Going forward, the Boks desperately need to add a killer edge to their ambitious intent.

WATCH: Springboks vs All Blacks highlights

Boks must hone kicking game
While there was plenty to enjoy about the Springboks’ efforts against the All Blacks on Saturday, their kicking game left a lot to be desired. In particular, a number of box kicks from Ross Cronjé lacked the necessary accuracy, while a charged-down kick from Elton Jantjies enabled the All Blacks to score the first opportunistic try. It leaves question marks that continue to hang over the heads of the Boks’ halfback duo, and particularly when one considers that Handré Pollard added a physical, direct presence when he came on as a substitute. As the Boks now head towards an end-of-year tour where the kicking battle will be of utmost importance, it’s a problem area that they desperately need to address.

ALSO READ: Halfbacks hurting Bok cause

Warrick Gelant sends out another Bok reminder
Although Gelant was included in the Springboks’ squad at the start of the Rugby Championship, he hasn’t had much of a look-in, with the 22-year-old predominantly deployed to do duty with the Blue Bulls in the Currie Cup. Yet it wouldn’t have escaped the attention of Allister Coetzee that Gelant continues to be in fine form, with the fullback again emerging as one of the star performers in the Bulls’ resounding win over the Free State Cheetahs in Bloemfontein on Friday night. Besides scoring a hat-trick of tries, Gelant was omnipresent on attack throughout the clash, while he had a helping hand in several of his team's 10 tries. He is a player who could add real value to the Bok squad for their end-of-year tour.

ALSO READ: Bulls blitz Free State

Photo: @Springboks/Twitter

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