‘A step backwards for bumbling Boks’

How South Africa's Sunday newspapers reacted to the Springboks' 22-8 victory over Italy in Padova.

Another week, another indifferent Bok performance. While the Boks made it two from three on the end-of-year tour ahead of next weekend's Test against Wales, the performance itself asked more questions than it answered. The South African scribes were less than enamoured with the Boks' showing against a gutsy Italian side, where they have been accused of lacking dynamism on attack and accuracy in their all-round game.

'A step back for bumbling Boks,' reads the headline of the sports section in the Independent. In his match report, Ashfak Mohammed says 'the Boks lacked creativity on attack, with one-off runners the order of the day, and the loose forwards and backs not offloading in the tackle. The likes of Duane Vermeulen, Marcell Coetzee, Coenie Oosthuizen and Jean de Villiers bashed it up the middle, but the Italians were waiting for them.'

The Boks hold precedent on the back page of Rapport, who decided to go with the headline: 'Petalje in Padova [Scrap in Padova]' accompanied by an image of Cobus Reinach going in for a try.

In his review of the match, Stephan Nell says the performance will leave Heyneke Meyer scratching his head and that 'for long periods of the game, one was left wondering whether this would be the Boks' darkest hour. In the first half it was the same story as in Dublin, where South Africa camped in Ireland's half without much reward. Again, one can only wonder about the team's psychological disposition.'

In his player ratings, Nell has given most of the Boks a five or six. Coenie Oosthuizen, Eben Etzebeth and Duane Vermeulen each received sevens, as did replacements Nizaam Carr and Willie le Roux.

‘Questions mount for Springboks’ reads the lead in the sports section of the Sunday Times. Writer Craig Ray lamented the Boks' lack of execution, stating that the Boks 'should have scored at least two more tries in the opening half and several more after the break. They scored three in total but it could have been eight or nine and should have been five or six.'

Ray says it was a mixed day at the office for the Boks, especially at the set pieces. While the lineout wobbled at crucial moments, Ray says Meyer would've been pleased with how his front row competed against a strong Italian scrum.

'Coenie Oosthuizen's contribution to the contest was massive from his scrum work, where he eventually forced Matias Aguero to limp off shortly before half-time, to his powerful ball carrying. His first-half try was just reward.

'Loosehead Trevor Nyakane also held his own against the formidable Martin Castrogiovanni. Despite one early scrum penalty against the Boks, when Nyakane slipped, it was the visitors who had the upper hand until Gurthrö Steenkamp's entry in the final quarter.'

By Brenton Chelin