A slightly improved second half performance securing the win against the Irish by the smallest of margins, still many areas that need improvement… and Heynecke asking for patience.
There’s not a lot I can say about the first half of the opening Test of the End of Year Tour. The guys looked stunned, making basic errors, giving away unnecessary penalties. You can blame that on inexperience if you want, but that story is also getting a bit too much for me to handle. The Irish could be the team blaming a poor performance on the lack of experience, yet they were the team playing all of the rugby in the first half and came out firing.
If you do blame it on the teams’ inexperience, then explain to me how can the players go from a Currie Cup final between the Sharks & Western Province, that saw such a great display of attacking rugby by both sides to players now in Green & Gold playing as if they don’t care about playing rugby. We were poor in the first half to say the least. It seems to me that any freedom to play the situation by reacting to what’s in front of you is being taken away by Heynecke, yet he has claimed that the players always had that freedom.
The players looked like mindless robots by aimlessly following this outdated game-plan, that seems to be stuck in the coach’s head, hoping that it will work like it did in the past for the Bulls.
Heynecke has already given in to some player selections, by bringing in the Goose and Lambie at flyhalf, which in all honesty I didn’t even think would happen, but he did it, yet the game-plan isn’t letting them play how they can play.
So he can pick the team we all want to see, drop Zane Niknaks from the team but it’s not going to make a difference, because the next fullback will simply only be allowed to just be positioning himself at the back, catch the ball and kick it back and chase, because that is the roll of the fullback in this game-plan, same for the other positions.
My question is, if the national coach is as brilliant as some claim, why can’t he simply wake up and make some small adjustments and tweak it to make it more effective? And I must say, I was pleased when they announced him as coach with his track record etc, but I’m starting to doubt his ability. From the first June test against England, it seems we’re going downhill, except for the Aussie match where we played some rugby for once. Now Heynecke is asking for patience? The All Blacks are the pace-setters and have always been and to me they never seem to be rebuilding. You never see an All Blacks side just losing a game and blame it on inexperience or rebuilding. Player management seems to be the phrase being thrown around and I can agree with that, because some players are really over played, but even with the fittest and freshest players I feel the Boks under Heynecke’s guidance won’t do any better.
Our backline is so static and flat and I think the right word is… Boring. Just look at how the Irish were attacking in the first half, luckily they didn’t have their big runners like Brian O’Driscoll, but still kept our defence guessing, with dummy runners and player running from depth and playing with width. Can you imagine if our back-line were running plays like that with the player talent we have?
Their defence were simply waiting for our forwards to take crash balls and just rushing off their defensive lines and tackling us before we can get any momentum going.
It must also be said that the referee had a shocker of a game, the Irish were offside most of the time on defence but that is the captain’s duty to point that out. The captain must also pull the guys together and not play a whole half of embarrassing rugby only to get kakked out by the coach and then only play slightly better. Had we played like this in the Rugby Championship we would have received bigger hidings against the Aussies, Kiwis as well as the Pumas… are the Boks sliding? Will we struggle against the Scots? Will Lambie be giving more freedom to play his game, will he even be given another chance at pivot? We will have to wait and see what happens, but I’m not getting my hopes up at the moment, I think we will see more of the same…
Picks for the next round of Internationals:
Wales by 10, New Zealand by 30, England by 8, South Africa by 3, Argentina by 9