Five lessons from the past weekend's international matches, according to SIMON BORCHARDT.
Willie le Roux won't suffer from second-season syndrome
Le Roux had a very good first season of Test rugby in 2013 and, judging by his performance at Kings Park on Saturday, will be even better in 2014. The fullback had an exceptional first half against Wales, creating two tries for Bryan Habana – the first with a clever kick and the second with ball in hand – and then crossed the line himself just before the break, with a left-footed kick that he regathered. Le Roux was also brilliant under the high ball, taking everything the Welsh put on him, as well as an up-and-under that he himself kicked. Unfortunately for the Boks, he didn't see much of the ball in the second half, which perhaps explains why they only added 10 points to their total.
Lood de Jager is Bok material
The Cheetahs lock replaced Bakkies Botha in the 41st minute and showed not only that he can make a big impact off the bench, but that he's good enough to start if need be. The 21-year-old carried the ball well and was equally impressive on defence, forcing a turnover after making a tackle. With Botha having proved that he still has a lot to offer at Test level and Eben Etzebeth set to return from injury soon, Heyneke Meyer will be pleased with the depth he has at No 4 lock.
Adam Jones shouldn't start for Wales
Jones was dropped for Wales' last Six Nations match against Scotland and should be dropped again for the second Test against the Boks in Nelspruit. The 32-year-old tighthead prop, who has played 95 Tests for Wales and five for the Lions, was totally dominated by Gurthö Steenkamp at scrum time and substituted in the 32nd minute. Wales coach Warren Gatland should look to the future and give the No 3 jersey to the man who replaced Jones at Kings Park, 21-year-old Samson Lee, or 22-year-old Rhodri Jones.
The referee should overrule the TMO when the latter is clearly wrong
One of rugby's simplest rules is that a try is scored when the ball is grounded on or behind the tryline. Unlike in American football, crossing the line with the ball in hand is not good enough – the ball actually needs to touch the grass. Obvious, right? Not to Australian TMO George Ayoub, who when asked by South African referee Jaco Peyper if there was a reason not to award a try to England fullback Mike Brown, said no, even though the ball had clearly not been grounded. When Peyper pointed this out, Ayoub responded that it had been an England player's arm holding the ball, not an All Blacks one. At that point the referee, as the senior official, should have told his TMO that it didn't matter whose arm it was, but he backed down and gave the try. It was poor officiating all-round.
England coach Stuart Lancaster got his selections wrong
Moving Manu Tuilagi from the midfield to the wing for the second Test in Dunedin was always going to be a gamble – considering the 23-year-old had not played there since his junior days – and it failed to pay off. England's biggest attacking threat was wasted on the wing, as he didn't get the ball often enough, and he lacked the pace to play there, as was shown when he broke away from England's 22 with 75m of clear space ahead, only to be chased down by Ben Smith. Lancaster also opted to start Saturday's Test with three first-choice players – hooker Dylan Hartley, lock Courtney Lawes and No 8 Billy Vunipola – on the bench. With England having lost the first Test in the last five minutes, the coach planned to use the trio as impact players to ensure his side finished the second Test strongly. But a dominant third quarter from the All Blacks, which saw them build a 28-13 lead, meant the 'super subs' came on too late.
Photo: Barry Aldworth/BackpagePix
Duane never backs down
Duane Vermeulen, who continues to impress as a player and a leader, is on the cover of this month's SA Rugby magazine.
Duane Vermeulen continues to impress as a player and leader, writes JON CARDINELLI.
Bulls fullback Jesse Kriel always backs himself to have a go, writes SIMON BORCHARDT.