Tri Nations Brilliance

5 09 2010

What a game yesterday’s South Africa versus Australia was. All tournament long there has been fantastic running rugby on show, particularly from the Antipodean pairing and yesterday was no exception. In a game in which South Africa found themselves 31-13 down at the break, in the end it came down to the very last kick of the game – taken with aplomb by the previously hapless Kurtley Beale.

At half time any most people would have been forgiven for wondering just how many points the Australians were going to score. Lead by a brilliant first half performance from Quade Cooper, the Australians broke through the only recently impregnable South African defence seemingly at will. Miss passes, switches and simply some outstandingly evasive running lead to three of the sweetest and simplest tries you could imagine . However, the South Africans did not win all three of the world’s top prizes over the previous couple of years simply by accident and there was always the spectre of a Springbok comeback. Victor Matfield showed he wasn’t your average second row with a beautiful chip, regather and off load to set up a try for Jacques Fourie just before half time and suddenly it was game on.

The Australians, for all their grace and fluidity with ball in hand, can still be said to lack something. Over the past year or more they have been either up or dominant in games only to  find themselves on the wrong side of the score sheet at the final whistle. This is a most uncharacteristic trait as over the years the Aussies have proved themselves to be a side who are rarely beaten until its all over and simply cannot be written off. Yesterday threatened to be another one of these more recent occurrences however but, with the final kick of the game, up stepped Kurtley Beale and the Aussies sneaked over the line.

Beale is a strange case and is someone who we at the Compulsive Hooker cannot make up our minds about. A beautifully balanced runner, anything looks possible when he gets ball in hand. Unfortunately he manages to combine this with some unfortunate decision making and is frequently out of position. Whilst Robbie Deans obviously knows his business we cannot help but think that there are safer options than Beale to be chosen for the 15 shirt. Full back is such a crucial position that come the world cup next year, Australia would be seriously handicapping themselves by persevering with Beale in his current form.

For South Africa this was yet another disappointing match in what has been a chastening campaign. It has been a sudden and precipitous fall from grace which is all the more surprising considering the team is much the same as it was this time last year. The first hints of this slide came during the Autumn internationals when they failed to beat anyone other than perennial Six Nations wooden spoon contenders – Italy. In our view the blame can be squarely laid at the door of incumbent coach, Pieter De Villiers. A man who makes more headlines for the ridiculousness of his comments than anything else and who, in our view, only managed to win a World Cup, Tri Nations and Lions series through the innate skill and leadership of his players is now finding life very tough indeed. With some of the players getting past their best, now is the time when the coach needs to show proper leadership, demonstrate some good ideas and selection ability (previously this in particular was very suspect) and sadly (for the Boks at any rate) this is lacking. Time to go PDV…

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For everyone English or Kiwi who may not have realised – the Womens Rugby World Cup Final is on later today live from the Twickenham Stoop. New Zealand are favourites (naturally) but England do have a real chance in what has so far been an excellent tournament full of very good rugby. We can’t find the time of kick off anywhere so if someone knows it and could comment we would be very grateful!

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One response

5 09 2010
Michal

The Boks have made an amazing turn around in form, and as you say I think it’s time for PDV to pack his bags. At least everyone will be underestimating the Boks next year!

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