Five lessons from the third round of the Rugby Championship, according to SIMON BORCHARDT.
Stay switched on after conceding a penalty
Argentina were leading 27-13 early in the second half of the Durban Test when they were awarded a penalty 6m out from the Bok tryline. With medics on the field attending to players, and Bok captain Jean de Villiers chatting to his men, Juan Martín Hernández took a quick tap and put Juan Imhoff away for his hat-trick try. Referee Romain Poite should not have called 'time on' with medics still on the field, but as De Villiers admitted afterwards, the Boks should have been ready for a quick tap and did not react the way they should have.
The Boks will go into the World Cup low on confidence
Saturday's Test at Kings Park was supposed to have seen a big Bok win that boosted their confidence and ended a three-match losing streak. Instead, they suffered a first ever loss to Argentina, and the fact that it came at home makes it one of the most humiliating in Bok history. Heyneke Meyer was planning to rest his first-choice players for the trip to Buenos Aires, but no matter what team he takes, the Boks will be hard pressed to prevent a fifth consecutive loss. As Meyer said, there are a lot of issues that need sorting out before then. In Durban, the Bok defence was poor, the scrum struggled (why give Vincent Koch his first Test start against the world's best loosehead in Marcos Ayerza?) and Handré Pollard's poor performance could force Meyer to put his faith in Pat Lambie. It's certainly not the situation the coach would have wanted to be in five weeks away from the World Cup.
The Wallabies scrum has improved
Australia's pack has often been referred to as powder-puff, but in Sydney on Saturday they showed they can hold their own, and even dominate, at scrum time against the world's best. Based on this performance, the Wallabies' pool opponents, England and Wales, will have a real battle up front when they meet at the World Cup.
Two fetchers can work for the Wallabies
A lot of eyebrows were raised when Michael Cheika named Michael Hooper at openside flank and another fetcher, David Pocock, at No 8. But it proved to be a masterstroke as the duo were able to slow down All Blacks ball and force four turnovers between them. They also made an impact with ball in hand, making 10 carries each, and on defence, with Hooper making 10 tackles and Pocock nine.
Nehe Milner-Skudder can wing it for the All Blacks
The 24-year-old had an outstanding Test debut in Sydney, scoring two tries. The first required a simple run-in after a great pass from Ben Smith, but he had plenty of work to do to score his second, stepping inside Israel Folau and then managing to ground the ball on the line. Milner-Skudder finished the match with 128 running metres from eight runs, and four clean breaks. It remains to be seen whether this performance has edged him ahead of Israel Dagg and Cory Jane in the pecking order, but he certainly has given coach Steve Hansen something to think about.
Photo: Steve Haag/Gallo Images