Adriaan Strauss produced an inspired performance to lead the Boks to a hard-fought 18-10 win over the Wallabies on Saturday, according to SARugbymag.co.za’s Opta-powered stats.
In yet another forgettable Test, there were very few standout performers. Yet, when the Boks desperately needed a big performance from their captain, they finally received it.
Strauss has come in for plenty of criticism this season, with many believing he should not only relinquish the No 2 jersey, but the captaincy as well.
However, his performance on Saturday would have served to at least temporarily silence his critics. In the first half, Strauss made 59m, completed three clean breaks and won an important turnover.
Although he didn’t have quite the same impact in the second stanza, he did play a part in another crucial turnover when the Wallabies were in the red zone.
His leadership was also excellent on the night, with the Boks taking every opportunity to keep the scoreboard ticking over through the boot of Morne Steyn.
He did exactly what was asked of him. His kicking both out of hand (11 kicks) and at goal (four penalties and two drop goals) was excellent, while he added some good variation to his play.
While the Boks managed to come away with an ugly, but important, win, it should not gloss over the fact that they once again achieved very little with ball in hand.
Overall, the Wallabies made 509m to 330, completed 113 carries to 87, while beating 21 defenders to nine. The visitors also enjoyed 55% of possession and 60% of territory. Again, the Boks offered very little on attack, with the hosts never really looking likely to breach the Wallabies defence.
The Springboks did show an improvement on defence, but still missed 21 tackles overall, and there is no doubt that the Wallabies side could have made them pay if their execution was better.
One clear area where the Boks impressed, though, was at the set pieces. They enjoyed clear ascendancy at scrum time, while finishing the match with a 100% success rate at both the scrum and lineout.
Ultimately, the steady boot of Steyn and a gutsy effort from Strauss saved the Boks from suffering another historic defeat.
Photo: Lee Warren/Gallo Images