Five lessons from the second round of the Rugby Championship, according to SIMON BORCHARDT.
The Springbok scrum is a major concern
The Bok pack was embarrassed in Salta on Saturday, with Gurthrö Steenkamp and Jannie du Plessis being substituted after just 46 minutes and Bismarck du Plessis leaving the field in the 52nd. Things improved when Beast Mtawarira, Adriaan Strauss and Frans Malherbe came on, but Heyneke Meyer must be a worried man after seeing how the All Blacks scrum smashed Australia's earlier in the day. Whatever technical deficiencies are hampering the Bok scrum – Ollie le Roux tweeted during the game that Steenkamp was not keeping his hips next to Bismarck's – need to be addressed as a matter of urgency if the Boks are to challenge for the Rugby Championship title.
A strong bench can win you a match
The Springbok substitutes enabled their team to turn a 28-16 deficit into a 33-31 win. While the front rankers helped to stabilise the scrum, it was Marcell Coetzee's ability to get over the advantage line that saw the Boks build momentum and get two tries, the second of which the flanker scored himself. Morné Steyn also gave the Bok backs direction when he came on in the 56th minute and showed why he should start ahead of Handré Pollard against the Wallabies and All Blacks.
Don't upset the All Black forwards
The Wallabies pack was praised for their performance in Sydney. They held their own at scrum time for most of the match, and when the All Blacks did start to dominate up front later on, referee Jaco Peyper refused to penalise the struggling Australians. That must have annoyed the All Blacks forwards, to put it politely, because at Eden Park they played like they had a serious point to prove. And prove it they did. No sooner had the Wallabies pack been reduced to seven men following the sin-binning of Rob Simmons than they were pulverised in a scrum. And when they capitulated again soon after, at a 5m scrum, it resulted in a penalty try. The All Blacks also cleaned out the rucks with vigour, smashed into their opponents on defence, and mauled well, with Richie McCaw being driven over for two tries. All Blacks coach Steve Hansen couldn't have asked for a bigger response from his big men.
The All Blacks know how to put a teammate into space
As John Mitchell pointed out in the SuperSport studio, the All Blacks manipulated the Wallabies defence throughout the match in Auckland, with the third Australian defender being forced to adjust his position. That, combined with their ability to play at such a high tempo and intensity, resulted in nine clean breaks and wave after wave of attack. Their support play was also excellent, as shown by the number of times they offloaded in the tackle (18) instead of going to ground. That kept the Wallabies under constant pressure and saw them miss 17 tackles.
The Wallabies have not yet turned the corner
Ewen McKenzie's men arrived in Auckland full of confidence after winning eight and drawing one of their last nine Tests. But if the 12-12 result in Sydney suggested the Wallabies had closed the gap on the All Blacks, the 51-20 hammering they received at Eden Park showed they still have a lot of work to do. McKenzie can start by getting his selections right. He should have kept faith in Bernard Foley at flyhalf and played Kurtley Beale at 12, and he should have picked specialist wingers, as Pat McCabe and Rob Horne were exposed defensively. Henry Speight's Wallabies debut can't come soon enough.
Photo: Juan Mabromata/AFP Photo