Over-reliance on mauls a big worry for Boks
SPOTLIGHT: Springbok assistant coach Deon Davids said the forwards’ inability to lay a solid foundation in the second half was the starting point of South Africa’s downfall in the first Test against the British and Irish Lions.
After dominating proceedings tactically in the first half and heading into the break 12-3 in front, the Springboks found themselves outsmarted by the B&I Lions after the break.
The tourists nullified the Springboks’ forwards by winning the aerial battle by kicking clever contestable balls instead of line kicks.
It meant the Boks’ main weapon, the driving maul, was taken out of the game.
Jacques Nienaber’s side failed to adapt and they looked clueless for most of the second half.
They eventually lost the match 17-22.
“You got to have a solid base in the line-outs and the scrums,” Davids told reporters during an online media briefing on Monday.
“If you have that solid base, it allows you to execute better.
‘It puts you on the front foot and you can play towards your plan.
“If things go wrong [up front] it influences the attack and then influences your energy expenditure in terms of how you execute stuff.
“Everything has a ripple effect from a set-piece point of view.
“It is important that we provide a solid base, a solid platform.
“The Lions challenged us in those specific areas.
“Whether it is legal or illegal or streetwise in terms of what they do there, from our point of view we have to handle it better and make better plans and come up with better solutions in order to improve that.”
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Front row injuries
Retshegofaditswe Nche, Mbongeni Mbonambi and Trevor Nyakane were excellent as a front row in the first half – before they were all replaced at the break by Steven Kitshoff, Malcolm Marx and Frans Malherbe.
Davids said injuries played a role in those changes.
“First of all, congratulations to Ox and the rest of the starting front row, Mbonambi and Trevor, in terms of their performance in the first half. I think it was exceptional.
“At half-time, there were a few niggles. Ox had a neck injury and complained about it and I think Bongi complained about a hamstring injury.
“With all those things in mind, the coaching staff made the decision on what was the best thing to do in that situation.
“Based on the performance in the front row and how they really emptied the tank and how they put everything on the field in the first half we would have liked to continue with them, but circumstances led to us making that decision and I think it was the right decision at that specific time.”
The Springbok coaching team would have a clear indication later on Monday evening of the injuries within the squad once the medical staff have concluded their assessments.