The Springboks got over the line 19-16, in the end, thanks to a late penalty from Handré Pollard, but it was a game that could have gone either way. The match was dominated by kicks from hand, with 73 in total between the two teams, as neither side played with a lot of ambition in attack.
South Africa’s game is largely built upon kicking for territory and playing the game in the opposition’s half. A powerful pack and solid defence will then manage to eke out penalties, which was the case in Yokohama. They can play in other ways, but that was their tactic against Wales on Sunday.
Head coach Rassie Erasmus will not change his approach before the final of the RWC, and has even said that the RWC will not be won by a “very expansive gameplan and wonderful tries.” In spite of that, fans on social media do feel that the Springboks must sharpen their game if they are to overcome England on Saturday.
It would be unfair to say that Faf de Klerk’s kicking was poor in the semi-final, as he was able to find space or put Wales under pressure on occasions. But that is inevitable when he made 19 kicks himself in the game.
There were equally kicks that were not as dangerous. Ironically, some of the scrumhalf’s poorest kicks went in his team’s favour as they were so short that Wales’ players in the backfield were too deep, and therefore struggled to claim kicks that barely went 10 metres. He cannot expect to be as fortuitous against England.
Even in attack, the Springboks often looked to grubber kicks from Pollard, Damian de Allende or Willie le Roux as a way of breaching Wales’ defence. It was only when they had a penalty advantage in the second-half that de Allende opted to make a charge on his own towards the line in the wider channels, and was rewarded with a try.
— RugbyPass (@RugbyPass) October 28, 2019
While there are those on social media that are demanding South Africa to kick less, many others are simply calling for an improvement. The frenzied speight of charge downs in the second-half was a microcosm of the entire match in Yokohama, as both teams engaged in a kicking war with varying degrees of success.
Although Wales were sucked into that approach, they grew from strength to strength as the game went on, as the Springboks continued to spill the ball in the backfield. If they are to engage in such a game against England, an improvement is a necessity.
This is what has been said:
If the @Springboks don’t massively up their game they stand no chance of beating @EnglandRugby. The kicking strategy isn’t going to cut the mustard against England unless they improve their chasing of the box kick.
— Richard Thompson (@EkilErif) October 27, 2019
Well done! But Polards & Fafs arial kicking has to improve if we are to win the World Cup. Good win, but a very bittersweet victory!
— sharkk95 (@sharkk95) October 27, 2019
We really should not celebrate that victory. There is alot of room for improvement. Kicking away possession and not catching a rugby ball more than once is inexcusable. Come on boks!! We are better than this #RWC2019JAPAN #BOKKE
— Wihann Kotze (@WihannK) October 27, 2019
Eddie probably the best coach there has ever been… Springboks going to have to cut down on errors and we need to kick better! England will be insufferable if they win cricket & rugby World Cup same year
— FireRabbit (@_Fire_Rabbit_) October 27, 2019
Please no more useless box kicking from DeKlerk
— Stephen Lee (@stevehughlee) October 27, 2019
tell faf de klerk to stop that ball kicking nonsense or we are doomed
— Kellan nkundla (@kellan_nkundla) October 27, 2019
I agree, as a South African, that was a very boring game to watch, which could have gone either way. If the Springboks carry on with this game plan of kicking possession away all the time in the final, England will give them a hiding based on their match against NZ!
— Denise Rizzo (@Rooikat2u) October 27, 2019
We urgently need to replace Willie Le Roux and Faf de Klerk!
Why do we have a player like Kobus Reinach but he does'nt play?
When he did, scored 3 tries in record time!
He will increase the flow of the game with better service behind the forwards!
Not to mention,less poor kicks!
— JHP BREEDT (@JHPBREEDT) October 27, 2019
It was this tactic that was the downfall of the Springboks against the All Blacks in the pool stages at the beginning of the RWC, as they failed to put Steve Hansen’s side under any pressure under the high ball.
They have improved as the tournament has progressed, but would have been rueing such an approach had Wales managed to sneak a win against them, which was a possibility.
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