‘Boks can’t afford errors’

Beast Mtawarira says the Springboks have to cut out their individual errors against the Wallabies in Brisbane this Saturday, writes CRAIG LEWIS.

The Boks have had some time for introspection after suffering their first-ever defeat to Argentina away from home on 27 August, with the result having once again exposed several of the new-look team’s shortcomings.

In particular, the Boks’ defensive system was compromised far too easily in the face of a high-paced Argentinian attack, while they conceded 11 turnovers, gave away nine penalties and missed four shots at goal (three penalties and a conversion).

Ultimately, as illustrated by SARugbymag.co.za’s Opta-powered stats, the Pumas made 467m to 324, produced 98 carries to 78 and executed 18 clean breaks to eight, while enjoying 53% of possession.

Afterwards, Allister Coetzee acknowledged that Argentina had been fully deserving of the victory, but there’s no doubt some intense analysis would have been done behind closed doors to identify the cause of their failure to cohesively execute their plans on attack or defence in Salta.

And while there has only been limited time for the Boks to address some of their problem areas, they should have benefited from the decision to head to Australia as early as last week and, importantly, initial reports suggested Elton Jantjies should be cleared to resume his place at No 10.

Jantjies has yet to display the sort of all-round game management that Coetzee has championed since the start of the international season, but the fact remains that the Boks have failed to fire as a unit.

There have been clear indications that a number of new combinations are still battling to gel, while there has been common consensus that the Boks are still in the midst of establishing some much-needed balance to the brand of rugby that they want to embrace.

Similarly, the Wallabies have looked to be lacking both cohesion and confidence since the start of the season, with a series whitewash against England being followed by back-to-back defeats against the All Blacks.

However, there’s no doubt that they will view Saturday’s clash as a prime opportunity to end a six-match losing streak (going back to last year's World Cup final) and finally open their account in this year’s Rugby Championship.

Mtawarira, who equalled the Springbok appearance record of Os du Randt last when he played in his 80th Test for the Springboks in Salta, reiterated that the Boks knew another completely different challenge lay in store in Australia.

‘The Wallabies are never an easy team to play at home; they’re a very technical team and you have to ensure your analysis is done well against them. It was a disappointing result in Salta, but the most important thing is to move on quickly. The biggest problem was that we made a lot of individual errors, and we need to eradicate that and ensure when we come up against Australia, we make less mistakes.’

It was a point echoed by teammate Juan de Jongh on Monday.

'We will all have to work extremely hard and cut out those individual mistakes if we want to get a result on Saturday. I believe we have to turn the tables on them if we want to get the ball rolling again because in this competition you don’t get many chances.'

The Boks held their second training session in Brisbane on Monday, with the team for this weekend's Test set to be named on Wednesday evening (SA time).

Photo: Shaun Roy/Gallo Images

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Craig Lewis