What we’ve learned

Five lessons from the fifth round of the Rugby Championship, according to SIMON BORCHARDT.

Francois Hougaard still has what it takes to play scrumhalf for the Springboks
No player was under more pressure going into Saturday's Test at Newlands than Hougaard. He had not worn the Bok No 9 jersey since August 2012 and was only starting because of injuries to Fourie du Preez and Ruan Pienaar. Hougaard responded with a Man of the Match performance that showed he can be as effective as a Test scrumhalf as he is on the wing. His passing was quick and accurate, he took on the fringe defence, and he tackled well, no more so than when he made a try-saving hit on Joe Tomane and then got up and made another. Hougaard's kicking has always been his weakness, but he was not expected to kick like Du Preez on Saturday, putting boot to ball on just four occasions, including a clever grubber that almost resulted in a try for Willie le Roux.

The Springboks must stick to their strengths
During the first half at Newlands, the Boks played a frenetic ball-in-hand game. But while they were able to keep possession for many phases at a time they posed little threat to the defence because they ran too laterally and too much of what they did took place behind the gainline. The Wallabies simply didn't commit many players to the breakdown, fanned out on defence and were easily able to shut their opponents down. The Boks were far more effective in the second half when they played in the right parts of the field, kept the ball closer to the forwards and earned the right to go wide. That approach has worked for them in the past and it helped them to score three late tries on Saturday. Let's hope they stick with it for the entire Ellis Park Test.

Oupa Mohoje belongs with the Boks
The 24-year-old flanker impressed during his first Test start, making 24m from four carries, completing 13 tackles, taking a ball at the back of the lineout and doing well to claim a restart. He was substituted for Schalk Burger after 55 minutes but did more than enough in that time to justify his selection.

Rugby is about a match 23, not just a starting XV
Meyer got it spot on when he brought Schalk Burger, Bismarck du Plessis and Pat Lambie off the bench between the 55th and 59th minutes of Saturday's Test. Burger made 17 carries during the 25 minutes he was on the field and helped change the momentum of the match, Lambie showed great composure to kick the drop goal that put the Boks back in front and scored a try, while Du Plessis had a hand in Jean de Villiers's first try. Bakkies Botha, who came on in the 62nd minute, made an impact with ball in hand, as did Cobus Reinach, who spent just two minutes on the field but made the break that led to the bonus-point try. The Boks were also fortunate to have a quality replacement in JP Pietersen when Bryan Habana was forced to leave the field after taking a big knock.

Israel Dagg is getting back to his best 
An out-of-form Dagg was not selected for the All Blacks' first two Bledisloe Cup matches, but since regaining the No 15 jersey for the Napier Test he has grown in confidence with every outing. He played a big part in the All Blacks' first try in La Plata when he ghosted through the defence and then passed back inside to Ben Smith, and scored their second when he ran on the outside of Smith and burst away down the right touchline. Hansen deserves credit for keeping faith in Dagg, who has proved the old adage that while form is temporary, class is permanent.

Photo: Luke Walker/Gallo Images

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