The Springboks have plenty of positives and some negatives they can take from their 23-all draw against the Wallabies while the All Blacks again had to dig deep against Argentina.
Five things to take away from Saturday’s Rugby Championship encounters in Perth and New Plymouth.
1) The Boks will miss Coenie Oosthuizen
Just when Coenie Oosthuizen makes his international breakthrough as a tighthead‚ he then goes and breaks his arm.
That’ll rule him out for the rest of the Rugby Championship.
While this is a blow‚ it allows Springbok coach Allister Coetzee to test his bench strength as there are the likes of Trevor Nyakane and Ruan Dreyer who can stake a claim with the first choice tightheads now injured.
All the tighthead contenders are under 30‚ which bodes well for the 2019 Rugby World Cup
2) Coetzee has a delightful selection headache at lock
Pieter-Steph du Toit’s rousing performance may put Coetzee under some pressure ahead of Saturday’s test against the All Blacks.
Franco Mostert has been good all season and deserved to take a break after a busy Super Rugby campaign with the Lions.
Mostert had to watch on as Du Toit made the most of a rare start to put in an excellent performance while Lood de Jager almost put in a very good shift as the Bok pack dominated the collisions despite the draw.
This is probably the best problem to have‚ especially in light of New Zealand’s quality at lock.
3) The Boks are getting better in the last 20 minutes
It was less than a year ago at King’s Park when the Boks were taken to the cleaners in the last 20 minutes by the All Blacks.
Such is the Boks improvement in the conditioning department that they controlled the game in the last quarter‚ only for their lack of patience and composure to fail them at the last minute.
However‚ these are facets that can be acquired as the team grows and gains more experience.
But the manner in which the Boks increased their intensity bodes well for their All Black date in Albany.
4) New Zealand will ask questions of the Boks
And yes‚ the All Blacks will be the acid test to gauge whether the Boks have indeed grown to a point where they can be considered title contenders.
The All Blacks have been playing at an intensity teams have had difficulty matching and the Boks will be asked to match‚ if not better the intensity and the tempo of the game.
The All Blacks have the personnel and the requisite skills to match the Boks‚ especially at the collisions‚ and still possess a better backline.
However‚ the Boks showed their adaptability‚ but the All Blacks are also masters in that department.
5) The All Blacks aren’t invincible when their forwards are matched
The British and Irish Lions showed the rugby world that the All Blacks can be mortal if their pack is stalled and the game is slowed down.
The Bok pack is not quite up there as compared to the strength of the four nations but they bossed Australia.
New Zealand’s scrum and lineout is better equipped tactically and technically and the drawn British and Irish Lions series provided pointers on where they needed to improve.
The Boks will also have taken notes on how the Pumas frustrated them in New Plymouth.