The good news Rassie and Jacques is that you have two matches to fix it, but know that your 2019 World Cup final win is yesterday’s news, because Saturday’s Springboks implosion against the British & Irish Lions is today’s news, writes Mark Keohane. And that last 40 was a shocker.
The British & Irish Lions deserved the win against the Springboks. The Lions coach Warren Gatland’s game management won the Test, even if his Test starting XV selections seemed to get it wrong.
The Boks led 12-3 at halftime and South Africa seemed in total control of the first of three Tests. The Lion won the second half 19-5 and the Boks never looked like scoring five points, let alone three.
A disclaimer, for the first 40, the Lions didn’t look like scoring three.
But the beauty of this series is that there are three Tests, and after three Tests, there is no doubt, the best team is the best team.
Let’s take a step back for a moment.
The Boks led 12-3 at half time and then led 17-10 before conceding 12 points in the last 20 minutes.
The Lions were the better team for the last quarter, but they were also the best conditioned team having played six matches in the build up to the Test, as opposed to the Springboks solitary one-out hit to against Georgia.
Come on, one team, with one Test in 21 months, against a squad of players having played two Six Nations, a European competition and all their domestic competitions, against a team having played one Test in 21 months and having had 26 players in Covid-infected isolation.
The Boks, on the evidence of the first 40 minutes, should have won. They led 12-3 and were in total control of the game.
The second half proved a disaster from the moment Kwagga Smith cocked up a kick receive and conceded a penalty, from which the Lions scored.
The Lions targeted Smith and rightly so. He was the week link in a Bok starting eight that, outside of Smith, was very good in the first 40 minutes.
The one thing, when you win a World Cup, is that on no one can question your selections. But the moment you lose a Test because of your selections, it is an open game, and Rassie and Jacques, you got seduced by your own importance. You picked the wrong guy to play the wrong game, and why I say that is that the greatest attacking weapon in world rugby, Cheslin Kolbe, never got an attacking ball.
You guys got this one wrong.
The good news is you have two matches to fix it, but know that your World Cup win is yesterday’s news, because your team’s last 40 minutes in the second half of Cape Town is today’s news.
You have seven days brothers to fix it and you’ve done it before.