In a riveting encounter at the packed Stade de France in Paris, the Springboks experienced a narrow defeat, falling 13-8 to Ireland. However, the journey in the Rugby World Cup is far from concluded for Siya Kolisi and his squad.
While this setback was in a pool game, both teams are poised to move forward to the quarter-finals. The Springboks are set to face Tonga, while Ireland will take on Scotland in the upcoming final pool B matches.
Key Takeaways from the Match
The Springboks’ performance revealed some areas of concern. Their goal-kicking was inconsistent, and the absence of Malcolm Marx highlighted a gap in the hooker position. Moreover, the team missed several scoring opportunities, which they will be keen to address in future matches.
However, it’s worth noting that the Springboks faced a similar situation in 2019, where they rebounded from a pool game loss to ultimately claim the championship.
A Game of Surprises
The match was nothing short of exhilarating. Contrary to expectations, both teams displayed aggressive offensive strategies from the outset. Instead of a cautious start, which is typical of such high-stakes games, both teams immediately sought to exploit the other’s vulnerabilities, ensuring a thrilling contest.
The Springboks showcased their dominance in the lineouts during the initial 30 minutes, unsettling the Irish. The scrum pressure from the South Africans also intensified, leading to several free kicks in their favour. Despite these challenges, Ireland managed to hold their ground.
A pivotal moment occurred around the 23rd-minute mark. Damian de Allende made a powerful charge against Ireland’s Johnny Sexton, nearly making it to the try line. As Sexton received medical care following the tackle, Ireland successfully defended against two Springbok attempts to cross their line. The momentum then shifted as Sexton delivered a pass to Mack Hansen, resulting in the game’s first try.
The Springboks’ only points in the first half came from a penalty by Manie Libbok. Their ability to convert opportunities into points was lacking.
However, the second half saw a shift. Following a mishandled penalty by Faf de Klerk, the Springboks secured a scrum deep in Irish territory. Libbok then delivered a precise pass to Cheslin Kolbe, leading to the team’s first try.
Concerns Over Goal-Kicking
Libbok’s missed conversion, coupled with his previous inconsistencies, raises questions about the team’s goal-kicking strategy. This has prompted the management to bring Handre Pollard into the squad, potentially taking over the crucial flyhalf position.
The missed points became even more significant when Sexton managed to give Ireland a 10-8 lead after the Springboks were penalized for a scrum infringement. Further disappointments followed for the Springboks as both Libbok and De Klerk missed subsequent penalty attempts.
The match concluded with Ireland’s Jack Crowley, replacing Sexton, securing the final points.
While this game ended in defeat for the Springboks, it provided valuable insights and lessons. With the World Cup journey still ongoing, the team will be eager to refine their strategies and come back stronger in the upcoming matches.