An inspired second-half performance carried the Springboks to a thrilling comeback victory over Ireland, according to SARugbymag.co.za’s Opta-powered stats.
To appreciate just how the Boks battled back to clinch a 32-26 win, it’s necessary to first look at how dead and buried the hosts appeared to be after producing the most hopelessly inept first-half performance. Within the opening quarter, they had conceded three penalties, committed four handling errors and missed another four tackles.
By the end of the opening stanza, the penalty count had risen to six, handling errors to seven and the missed tackle tally to 10. Understandably, the Boks were loudly booed as they left the field trailing 19-3 at half-time.
The Springboks’ ineptitude in the first half was further reflected by the statistics that revealed Ireland had made 165m to 83, 53 carries to 40 and beaten 10 defenders to one. Beyond that, the Boks had conceded seven turnovers and enjoyed just 45% of possession.
The Irish also enforced a carefully calculated kicking plan (putting boot to ball on 20 occasions in the first half), and particularly targeted Lwazi Mvovo under the high ball, with the left winger spilling possession on three occasions.
It forced Allister Coetzee’s hand, and at half-time the Bok coach replaced Mvovo with Ruan Combrinck, who proved to be the catalyst the Boks were looking for. The winger made 68m, beat three defenders and scored a superb try during a Man of the Match second-half cameo.
Indeed, it was his try that signalled a momentum shift as the Boks regained some belief and began to play with accuracy and intent.
By the end of the match, the Boks had completed a remarkable comeback, as reflected by the fact that they’d scored four tries to two, made 454m to 209, 111 carries to 73, completed 130 passes to 72 and executed seven clean breaks to three.
In addition, the hosts turned around the possession (60%) and territory (65%) stats in their favour, while the impact of the substitutes such as Warren Whiteley should be lauded.
After being roundly booed at half-time, the Boks were warmly cheered and celebrated just 40 minutes later.
Photo: Anne Laing/HSM Images