CRAIG LEWIS looks back at the mistakes and misfortune that cost the Boks in the dramatic dying minutes against England last Saturday.
There have been plenty of reactions since the Springboks’ disappointing 12-11 loss to England at Twickenham, much of which has revolved around the decision from the officials to overlook a dangerous tackle from Owen Farrell on André Esterhuizen.
However, the Boks will also reflect on a couple of key moments in the latter stages when they failed to capitalise on prime point-scoring opportunities.
In the first screenshot below, the Boks have taken play through 12 phases as the clock ticks past 78 minutes. Already at this point, it looks like an ideal position for Elton Jantjies or Handré Pollard to slot into the pocket and attempt a drop goal from right in front of the posts.
Instead, Embrose Papier plays Pieter-Steph du Toit, who looks to carry the ball up, but is smashed back behind the gainline as he is well met on defence.
The Boks manage to recycle possession and again find themselves with a solid base after 16 phases to go for the drop-goal option. However, it’s clear that this was never really part of the thinking, with Pollard jogging slowly past Jantjies as the Boks continue to look to drive it up among their big ball-carriers like RG Snyman.
As the Boks reach their 20th phase, the second part of the screenshot shows Farrell succeeding in ripping the ball away from Lood de Jager, with England able to escape from a precarious position.
It was a situation that bore similarities to the Boks’ Test in Wellington this year, when the All Blacks found themselves in a perfect position for a drop goal, and yet also opted against going that route. Indeed, it’s even more surprising that this never appeared to be a point-scoring option that the Springboks looked to consider.
While the Boks may rue some of that decision-making, they will be utterly frustrated by the blunders from referee Angus Gardner and his assistants in the clip below from the 82nd minute.
In the first part of the image, it’s clear that England wing Jonny May moves forward from an offside position before making a dangerous, high tackle around the neck of Jesse Kriel, none of which is picked up by the officials.
Moments later, a Bok error and another oversight from the officials again conspire against the visitors. After 14 phases, Papier’s floated pass almost unbelievably goes past a host of Bok players before eventually falling to Esterhuizen.
From a standing start, the big centre attempts to run the ball back for the Boks, and is met with the now well-publicised tackle from Farrell. From the replays, it’s impossible to overlook the fact that Farrell’s right arm virtually never leaves his side as he puts his shoulder into the chest of Esterhuizen.
The rest is history as Gardner and the officials opted against any further sanction, which enabled England to walk away with a fortuitous one-point win.
Photo: Mike Hewitt/Getty Images