Defence and discipline are key areas for Boks

Rassie Erasmus (Springbok head coach) during the South African national mens rugby team media briefing at Springbok Experience, V&A Waterfront on June 18, 2018 in Cape Town, South Africa.
Rassie Erasmus (Springbok head coach) during the South African national mens rugby team media briefing at Springbok Experience, V&A Waterfront on June 18, 2018 in Cape Town, South Africa.
Image: Ashley Vlotman/Gallo Images

For the Springboks the June Series against England has revealed that in all areas they are improving and most importantly‚ improving while winning.

Despite some defensive lapses‚ for large parts of the first two Test in Johannesburg and Bloemfontein‚ England were corralled after fast starts.

The Boks trailed 24-3 after 17 minutes at Emirates Airline Park and won 42-39‚ at one stage scoring 24 unanswered points themselves.

In Bloemfontein‚ England ran into a 12-0 lead after 13 minutes‚ but didn’t score a point for the rest of the game.

The Bok forwards in both matches‚ took control‚ while the other important ‘D’ – discipline – was far superior to England.

So far the penalty count reads 25 to England and 14 to SA‚ which is a huge disparity and something the Boks are pleased about. England‚ naturally‚ feel the opposite.

“Discipline has been a major focus for us this season‚” assistant coach Mzwandile Stick said.

“If you look at how England have put us under pressure at times‚ especially at the start of matches‚ the boys have kept their heads well.

“We have a lot of youngsters in the group‚ they are showing good maturity not to make silly discipline mistakes.

“But we’ve also made some errors and given away soft penalties‚ so we are not where we want to be.”

Coach Rassie Erasmus has publicly also backed the team’s defence‚ especially out wide where callow wings Aphiwe Dyantyi and S’Bu Nkosi have been exposed at times when they have come up to shut down space.

Erasmus and defence coach Jacques Nienaber‚ will no doubt be hard at work trying to suture those leaks‚ but not at the expense of two very bright prospects.

The young wings will have another chance this weekend.

“Improvement will just come through those players gaining experience by being exposed to the pressure of international rugby as much as possible‚” Erasmus said

“It’s like when you are a golfer and you have a short putt in your back yard.

"You are easily able to sink it over and over there because there is no pressure on you‚ but then do it in front of 50 000 people with all the pressure that comes with and it is a different story.

"They’ve just got to keep doing it and repeating it and learn through doing that.

“The youngsters will get it right in time.

"It did nearly cost us the game but that is a risk we have to accept because those guys have also been great on attack and have scored some wonderful tries and they will learn through being put repeatedly in pressure situations.

“England had 12 points after 12 minutes and then didn’t score after that.

"If you look at the stats the amount of attack time for both teams was equal‚ so we definitely got better and more confident as the game went along.

“So the trick is to balance team selection with continuity so those guys get enough opportunity to build the confidence that will prevent them from repeating those mistakes again.”

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