The Boks’ abysmal execution on attack and an utter lack of physicality up front were primary contributing factors to their historic first-ever loss to Italy on Saturday, writes CRAIG LEWIS.
For a moment, consider that a second-string All Blacks team beat the selfsame Italian side 68-10 last weekend. By contrast, the Boks scored a measly 18 points and plummeted to new, barely describable, lows.
In many ways, the Boks were beaten not only by their own incompetence, but by their absolute arrogance.
Although South Africa had managed to win just a solitary game out of their last six in the most embarrassing of seasons, they arrogantly opted to try and run Italy off their feet, while repeatedly turning down shots at goal.
In the end, the Boks had 62% of territory and 58% of possession, while they beat 19 defenders to four and completed 412 running metres to 130.
Yet, the fact the Springboks could only manage to score two tries aptly underlines just how utterly clueless this team is on attack, while basic individual errors regularly blighted the performance of a team that is mentally shot.
Beyond their impotence with ball in hand, the Boks were manhandled at the collisions and outmuscled at the mauls, while they were once again utterly dominated at the breakdown.
Overall, Italy won nine turnovers to just the solitary one, while Rudy Paige’s service from the rucks was regularly disrupted as the Boks completely failed to generate any quick ball.
The warning signs for the Boks had been there as early as the first half when they showed plenty of intent, but any substance to back it up was completely non-existent.
During that opening stanza, the Boks had 67% of territory and 36% of possession, while making 65 carries to 35, beating 12 defenders to two and executing five clean breaks to none. And yet the visitors led just 12-10 at the break as they repeatedly failed to make the most of attacking opportunities.
It only got worse during a second half that saw the Boks slip to a shocking defeat that rivals last year’s loss to Japan at the World Cup.
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