And after that hospital pass...
by Richard O'Hagan
It's always nice when your editor goes on holiday and leaves you with a piece on masturbation and a message which effectively says 'Ha! Follow that, sucker'. In fact, it is a hospital pass on a par with those thrown by Austin Healey in his less 'focussed' moments.
Notwithstanding that, I do have to disagree with the learned editor. Saturday's Tri-Nations opener was nothing like having a quick one off of the wrist. It was, in fact, like the worst sex you have ever had, the kind of sex where one of you peaks far too soon and then loses interest, whilst the other one only actually wakes up 3/4 of the way through. As a game, it was that bad. It did make me think the following things, though:
The future of South African rugby doesn't exactly look rosy - even if this was pretty much their 'B' team against the Australian (almost) first XV, you would have expected them to run and tackle their socks off. At one point in the game they had missed almost nine times as many tackles as their opponents. And then I stopped counting.
This would be a decent Australian team if they had forwards who could handle the ball - Will Genia was pretty much the difference between this side and the one which lost to Samoa last week, but for long parts of this match every time he passed the ball it seemed to end up going in the general direction of a forward. Who would drop it. Australia actually had more turnovers that South Africa and I reckon 95% of them came from the tight five.
You can't win a game if it takes 57 minutes for you to launch a meaningful attack - which is exactly what the Springboks did. They scored from that attack, but by that stage they were 33 points down and Australia had stopped caring. Earlier in the game they had a breakaway from the inevitable Aussie turnover. The breakaway group of seven had so little support that, by the time the ball went to ground, I counted at least 12 Australians back behind the ball.
You can't win a game if your back row don't win any ball and your half-backs don't do anything with the ball they have - It is a long while since I've seen a half back pairing do so little with so little ball, and I've watched the last half dozen Scotland games.
I have no idea if this Aussie midfield can defend - because they were never really tested. They went backwards the one time the 'Boks properly ran the ball at them in the first half, but then they scored almost immediately after and the visitors stopped trying that tactic, as if the two events were somehow connected.
When was the last time you saw two front row forwards run tries in? - Not crash over from a maul or tap penalty, or not do that prop thing where you take the ball on the line and then almost trip over it, but run in from ten metres out (or thereabouts). I can't remember one such occasion since the last World Cup, which is another savage indictment of the South African defence.
South Africa have a big problem with John Smit - One of the problems with playing your old and soon to be retired captain amid a team of youngsters is that they tend to look a bit old, fat and slow. Which, when your side is a bit slow anyway, is something of a problem. Smit's only significant contribution to the day was to flollop into a post for his side's final try. As a hooker he was outplayed by replacement Chilliboy Rallepelle, who also has a much better name. I never thought I'd regard Smit as the weak link in any South African front row, but it seems that the day has come.
James O'Connor's run up - How long before the Johnny Wilkinson 'arms outstretched whilst taking a dump' pose is replaced by O'Connor's toy soldier march to the ball. It was like watching an episode of Camberwick Green.
Patrick Lambie - He looks like Fotherington-Thomas. You don't win anything at this level if your fly half looks like Fotherington-Thomas.Tweet
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