There are certainties in this world… Death, taxes and an all-conquering final Kiwi flourish. Regardless of how a New Zealand team might have stuttered along for the first hour or so they seemingly without fail are able to engage a sixth gear which no one else possesses.
The home side found themselves trailing the Argentines 15-22 after 50 minutes in a scrappy contest in less than ideal conditions. To make matters worse for the men in black they lost a man to the sin bin at this stage. Cue an All Black grandstand finish led by VaeaFifita.
Another thing as certain as a Protea melt-down at an international cricket tournament is that the Wallaby pack will be going backwards a lot more than forward. This was yet again the case when it seemed the Springboks would pull of an impressive comeback after a power scrum earnt them a 3-point lead with 12 minutes to play. In fairness the Boks hadn’t been as dominant in the physical exchanged as they needed to be to deserve the victory.
There were a few worrying aspect for the South Africans in Perth. There were a couple of un-forced errors from the boot of both Jantjies and Andries Coetzee.The highball was not handled with aplomb on a few occasions and the attacking play of the South Africans was once again often devoid of rhythm.
In terms of the positives Pieter-Steph du Toit had a huge game as he run the show in terms of calling and managing the lineouts. In general play he was also a standout. JacoKriel has not convinced me of his place on the biggest stage but this was his best game with the Springbok on his chest – he turned over a number of balls and made a double-digit number of tackles on the night. At the back the centres appeared in sync and looked dangerous.
We are finally moving toward the big showdown in Albany. The level of progression of the Bok game will be measured by their performance against the All Blacks.A crystal ball should point to a comfortable All Black victory but the Springboks should have more chance of pushing the home side really close than Aron Smith has of passing a public bathroom.
There is no doubt in my mind that this All Black team is far from one running for team of the century at the moment. A few shortcomings were shown up by the touring British Lions. A fortnight ago the Aussies gave as good as they got for 78 minutes only to come up agonisingly short. This past weekend the South Americans gave the Kiwis a big scare for an hour or so.
Pundits crow on about how it shows the class of the All Blacks that they can win even when they are playing badly. Or that they are better than anyone else at finishing a game off and securing the win when a loss looks the more likely result. But this critic is not so easily convinced – this is a Kiwi side far removed from the World Cup wining one of 18 months ago. On the end of year tour the Irish showed they Blacks could be beaten and the French also showed some of their frailties. The Brits kept this theme going and after three weeks of the Rugby Championship coach Hansen has been left mostly unhappy with every performance.
Beauden Barrett (and his goal kicking is a worry) is no Dan Carter, SBW can blow equally hot and cold from game to game and Hansen’s love for the over-rated Sam Cane seems to be holding this team back. Aaron Smith is also a touch off his best. The pack is strong but one the South Africans can at the very least match if the Boks show up with their physical, in-your-face game.
Don’t get me wrong the islands are still a classy outfit but there are certainly some chinks in the armour at the moment. With young talents like ArdieSavea, Fifita, Rieko Ioane, Damian McKenzie and Laumape coming through - and others like David Havili still waiting in the wings – the future looks bright for New Zealand rugby and perhaps the window for tripping them up is a very small one.
On the local front the poor Grey BloemCheetahs outfit were called into the headmaster’s office for the second week running and on this occasion the roggering handed out from the Province side was a substantial one.
The Sharks played a get-out-of-jail card to escape a momentum-breaking loss in Nelspruit. The Natalians now find themselves with a comfortable advantage at the top of the log.
Swys de Bruyn has finally got his team singing from the same hymn sheet as the Lions secured a second successive victory. Its far from a full maned roar just yet but with talents like RohanJanse van Rensburg, Herold Vorster and the Kwagga the young Lions could still have the appetite to hunt down Currie Cup glory in 2017.
The final certainty is that this critic is going to be in his usual place on the couch this coming weekend!
Who is Couch Critic?
Hein Diemont is the resident “Couch Critic” in the Goodforthegame Forum and he shares his weekly Super Rugby Blog the “Post Match Scuffle” or “PMS” with us.
In his blog Couch Critic channels his usual weekend swearing, ranting, cheering, whinging and bickering to the written word. Brutally honest opinions of how the Super Rugby action went down from his perspective – no punches pulled, it’s PMS time…
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