A few things were glaringly obvious in the game against the Scots. It was always going to be a game of attrition. The Boks looked liked a team scared of losing and not one hungry of winning and Lambie played a very Morné-esque sort of game.
We played well in the first half and we were determined to stick to our structures, sort of play in our “comfort” zone. In the second half the Scots realised we were never moving out of second gear and more than happy to stay there. Then they upped the anti and the Boks were scrambling like mad men. Something that should never have been allowed to happen.
Gone are the days of outplaying a team in the first half and then using that killer instinct to slaughter them in the second. The Boks were on top of the Scots but in the second half it almost looked like we were relieved to be in front and rest on our laurels.
Two things stood out as negative points for me in that game. Lambie playing Morné rugby and CJ still being considered as a world class prop. The game obviously didn’t suit Lambie. There was none of that free flowing spirit we have seen from the young lad. He seemed stifled and perplexed for big parts of the game. In some way I think the “game plan” stifled him and in others he didn’t do himself any favours. Besides playing in a plan that obviously doesn’t allow him to be him, his kicking out of hand was atrocious. Seeing Lambie that far in the pocket had a lot of tongues wagging. The question is why? Why was he so far back? Why wasn’t he flatter? Why was he kicking so many up and unders? Why? Why? Why?
A lot of questions can be asked of his style but similarly a lot can also be asked of his execution. I would love nothing more than to start throwing conspiracies around but let’s face it, Lambie did not do himself any favours on Saturday. The problem with that is that it now gives Meyer the chance of bringing in Morné, so that the bore-fest can continue… in earnest… and alienate even more supporters of the green-and-gold.
Another thing that someone couldn’t help but notice was the glaring fact that our back players, bar De Villiers and Lambie, never got ball unless it was given to them by the opposition. Juan de Jongh touched the ball once, had a magic little half break and then never got given the ball again. Right there it proves that something is fundamentally wrong in the make up that is Bok rugby. Maybe it is the reason why Jaque Fourie refused to return. He doesn’t want his role at the Boks to be one of a tackling centre. Mallet summed up the de Jongh situation nicely after the match.
The turning point of the match, in my opinion, was the introduction of CJ. Once we lost dominance in the scrums we seemed to loose dominance in the forwards as a whole. We were slipping tackles and looking ever more lethargic as the game wore on. What makes it worse is that I do not blame tiredness. Our ascendancy was no more and the Scots took full advantage. CJ was the biggest instigator in this free fall and it almost cost us dearly.
Now I know a lot has been said of the style of rugby that the Boks play and that it has always been an ingrained thing in South African players. The kicking game is our game. But then again what was said in the Supersport studio rings true. Even with Naas as our flyhalf we had world class backs outside him, Gerber, Du Plessis, Huenis, Pienaar… legends of yesteryear.
Another interesting fact is that when we had our 17 match winning streak with Mallet as coach we did not have a kicking flyhalf. We had Henry Honniball and at 12 Dick Muir, a maestro of distribution. What I mean by this is we played our best rugby when not playing the traditional Bok style… if such a thing exists.
All in all I feel there is a stifling of development under Meyer and I don’t see it ending any time soon.