Best of the Weekend: Springboks shock New Zealand in their own backyard

South Africa

In arguably their best performance of this decade, South Africa put on a display that mirrored the finest Springbok teams with great power in the pack lead by Malcom Marx, Steven Kitshoff, Franco Mostert and captain Siya Kolisi whilst the exquisite attack of Willie le Roux and Aphiwe Dyantyi proved too much for New Zealand.

The hosts will rue the inaccuracy of Beauden Barrett’s goal-kicking and the decision not to go for the drop goal in the last play of the game. Despite a mixed Rugby Championship so far, this will really boost South Africa and it will also give Ireland and England hope going into the Autumn Internationals that the All Blacks are indeed beatable.

Australia’s woes continue as Argentina beat them on home turf
The Wallabies form pre-World Cup is worrying, and to be beaten by the Pumas on home soil raises significant doubts, not to go against Argentina of course who have been excellent in the Championship thus far. However, the game was overshadowed by an incident after the whistle in which flanker Lukhan Tui was involved in a scuffle with an Australian fan after the latter was attributed to have pushed over Tui’s sister. In a week in which Tui’s stepfather unfortunately passed away, it was a disgusting act by a supposed supporter who should be given a lengthy stadium ban at the least.

Meanwhile in the Gallagher Premiership…
Bristol Bears again showed a deep team ethic, willingness to play, resilience and a well drilled-defence to really rattle Gloucester on Friday night, and they were ahead by halftime. However their willingness to play the ball was their downfall in the end, Gloucester eventually succeeded in trapping them in their own 22 and they were just choked in the end by Gloucester’s own well-drilled defence and the dominance of the forward pack, led chiefly by Captain Ed Slater, Franco Marais and man of the match Jake Polledri. Bristol showed enough spirit and their away support was impressive, I’m sure they can get a few wins at Ashton Gate to stay up.

Bath shock inconsistent Harlequins

The kings of inconsistency battled it out at the Stoop on Saturday where you would expect the home side to win but the excellent work of battle-scarred Henry Thomas, Elliott Stooke and Bath’s back row of Zach Mercer, Sam Underhill and Tom Ellis proved too much for Quins. The directness of Jamie Roberts and the brute power and fantastic finishing of England hopeful Joe Cokanasiga meant that the West Country side got a bonus point win over Quins whose performance was rife with handling errors and a poor lineout but still managed to grab two vital bonus points in the last few minutes and they could’ve have even won but Bath’s defence held out.

Promising signs from Northampton as they are unlucky to lose out to Saracens

Northampton shipped over 200 points to their fierce rivals in both Europe and the Prem last season and were hoping to build on their win against Harlequins last week at the Gardens. They were ahead for the majority of the game thanks to tries from England internationals Piers Francis and (a refreshed) Dylan Hartley as well as Ben Franks but two late scores from David Strettle meant that the hosts left with 5 points on the table despite a lot of ill-discipline.

Falcons get 1st win of the season and Exeter beat resilient Sale
Newcastle finally achieved their 1st win of the 2018-19 season, as tries from Sinoti Sinoti and Sonatane Takulua put them in good stead and they managed to hold off the Warriors who at least got a losing bonus point. Meanwhile, Exeter’s power and class were too much for Sale who had started brightly with a sensational finish from Marland Yarde but the Chiefs went rampant with sublime tries from Santiago Cordero and Henry Slade.

Red card controversy as Wasps just pip Tigers in another entertaining Ricoh Arena affair
Leicester Tigers vs Wasps have given us some matches during their glory years but their derbies in recent seasons since the latter’s relocation to Coventry has increased the rivalry no doubt. The game of course was turned on its head when the referee sent off Will Spencer, a decision that caused outcry amongst all rugby fans even amongst those wearing gold-tinted spectacles.

To Leicester’s credit, they hung on and were even ahead for a chunk of time in the second half, but three penalties from Lima Sopoaga meant that Wasps secured a bonus point victory. Tigers will still be happy with how they performed with 14 men and they leave with 2 bonus points, but they again struggled with a wobbly lineout.

Premiership Team of the Week
1. Sami Mavinga (Newcastle)
2. Franco Marais (Gloucester)
3. Henry Thomas (Bath)
4. Elliott Stooke (Bath)
5. Jonny Hill (Exeter)
6. Zach Mercer (Bath)
7. Jake Polledri (Gloucester)
8. Nathan Hughes (Wasps)
9. Ben Spencer (Saracens)
10. Joe Simmonds (Exeter)
11. Joe Cokanasiga (Bath)
12. Juan de Jongh (Wasps)
13. Henry Slade (Exeter)
14. David Strettle (Saracens)
15. Liam Williams (Saracens)

What happened in the Pro14?
Munster gave Ospreys a real reality check as they were thumped 49-13 at the Irish Independent Park, who were overpowered by Tadgh Beirne and Chris Cloete. Edinburgh got their 1st win of the season against Connaught, they could have easily scored more but again struggled with handling errors and Richard Cockerill went all guns blazing on the quality of refereeing afterwards.

Leinster unsurprisingly smashed Dragons 52-10 in Dublin with Tadgh Furlong and Scott Fardy amongst the scorers. For the defending champions it’s business as usual but for the Dragons, there seems to be no improvement from last season at all even with the boost in signings. Scarlets survived a real horror scare as Benetton Treviso were in the lead for much of the game, the Welsh side can be accused of taking the Italians too lightly but this Benetton side are on the up and will cause upsets this season.

The Cheetahs started strongly but then slumped dramatically to Glasgow who turned it up a notch after the second half, eventually winning 24-52 with flyhalf Adam Hastings and scrumhalf Ali Price especially impressing. For the Cheetahs, fans are beginning questions as to why more signings outside of promotions from their Currie Cup squad were not made in the light of key players departing for other clubs both in the Northern Hemisphere and in South Africa.

The return of Marcell Coetzee was well received amongst Ulster fans as he inspired his side to a victory over the Southern Kings away in South Africa and Zebre made a huge shock by beating the Cardiff Blues in the last minute. This is beginning to look ominous for Cardiff already and with the talent of the squad they have they should definitely be performing better than they currently are.

What happened elsewhere?
In the Top 14, highlights were Lyon’s thrashing of Montpellier and Clermont looking like their old selves with their away victory over Pau and Toulouse beat Racing 92 30-17 at the Stade Toulousain.

Hero of the Week
David Strettle deserves this honour as his two late tries sealed the deal for Saracens who edged Northampton. It’s so good to see that the former England winger still has it at the ripe old age of 35, with he and George Smith proving that rugby players can go on into their mid-thirties and still play a high level of rugby.

Villain of the Week
Obviously the Australian “fan” who attacked Lukhan Tui and is accused of pushing over the Wallaby’s sister. First off, it shows that he isn’t really a supporter at all, frustration should never be taken out on players like that. Plus, Tui’s stepfather had only just passed away. That make’s this “fan’s” act all the more disgusting. I hope he get’s the punishment he deserves.

Key Talking Points
– Does Cokanasiga (and other players) deserve a call up to the next England training squad?
– Should Michael Cheika be sacked?
– Is Richard Cockerill right to question standard of officiating?
– Should Will Spencer have been red carded? How much did it affect the game in the end?

By Jacob Bassford (add me on Twitter @jacob_bassford and subscribe to my Youtube channel @FlyingG_Sports)

28 thoughts on “Best of the Weekend: Springboks shock New Zealand in their own backyard

  1. Busy weekend so only managed to catch the Gloucester game, so can’t comment on any of the others, but would give a shout out for Billy Twelvetrees for Friday night. Made hard yards over the gainline all night and with DC, was involved in fantastic distribution to the rest of the backs. The pair of them have really gelled. Kicking from the tee was just a little off but that shouldn’t detract from another standout performance. Actually thought that Marias was off the pace a little in the first half but did make up for it in the second half along with the whole Glos pack, once George Smith’s invisibility potion wore off!

      1. On a more serious note though, is Cipriani going to do any place kicking whilst he’s at Gloucester. The fact that he hasn’t yet slightly concerns me as if he is going to get a regular start at England, does that mean we would have to commit to Farrell at 12, not allowing any other options to be explored?

        1. So long as EJ is in charge it will forever be a regular start for Ford and Farrell. DC will more than likely be included in the EPS on Thurs, but only viewed as a back up for injury cover.

        2. Don’t think Cips will be kicking while BTT is on the pitch. Not sure who is next in line when Billy doesn’t play. Interestingly Cips is playing quite a bit at second receiver so 12 shirt in old money.

  2. Managed to catch a couple of Prem games and lots of highlights.
    Gloucester looked strong for portions of their game, but Bristol are proving tough to beat. They have a doggedness which reminds me of Exeter when they first came up. They may not win many games but if they can keep the majority of the team fit, they will be scaring a few teams who lose players in the Autumn internationals.
    Chris Boyd is probably the most frustrated coach at the moment. Sarries showed them how to close out a game again. Goode and Williams combined excellently to give Strettle his first, and then Williams sublime catch and run through a massive hole provided good ball to push out wide for his Strettle’s second. But if I was Boyd I think the most frustrating try to concede was the kick up field by Spencer for Lewington to score.
    Gustard is another coach who should feel frustrated. Quins should have beaten Bath, who haven’t looked too convincing so far but, some great finishing from Cokanasiga and co was enough to get the win.

    1. Caveat, I do support Bath, but seems a bit harsh on them. Quins might have expected to beat Bath, with home advantage, but given that they haven’t looked particularly consistent or convincing at times this season either, then I wouldn’t have gone as far as should have beaten Bath as though it was some forgone conclusion. Both sides showed some very positive attacking play, genius finishing helps, but they also converted other chances very effectively. But equally both sides were equally frustrating at times, you could easily say that Blackadder should feel equally frustrated that his team pout his nerves through the wringer in surrendering most of a 19 point lead and almost the win with it, when other more consistent teams would have happily put that game to bed.

  3. Well, an interesting punter deluge. Only happens though when the AB’s lose?!

    NZ got 34 to SA’s 36, but out scored them 8 tries to 3, including the 2 intercepts! With 75 % of territory & possession, the AB’s would have expected to have won this 1 (like EVERY1 else?) @ home. However, the 2 gifted 7 pointers & B. Barrett’s wayward boot, hitting the posts twice, but missing 4, undid NZ in the end. And 1 conversion would have rendered this whole discussion irrelevant. SA defended well & took their chances. They also created created 3. The AB’s may require additional defensive homework, but after pinning the Saffas in their own 1/2 for most of the game & with 75% of the ball? Well, these things happen. Like Chicago. NZ could & probably should have won it @ the death with their forward drives or by running it, opting against the drop (which they did consider& would it have been a guaranteed banker?), but this time it didn’t work out. There’ll always be those whom will state that this was a turning point, the gap has closed, NZ are not invincible etc, but we’ll see in 2 week’s time. Also, as SA have just lost to Australia & Argentina, too much shouldn’t be read into this result. Those whom do, do so @ their peril. NZ have been here before & it’ll happen again. They’ve fallen off the horse, but let’s see if they get back on it again. This loss will have hurt NZ. All their losses do. However, it was just 1 game& I predict that this reverse will galvanise them to fix things next time. Beware a wounded AB. The Irish likely will after Dublin last time.

    1. Surely it was 8 tries to 5 not 3? But equally if it weren’t for a s@#t day at the office from the tee from Barrit then they would have won comfortably, you can’t really leave 12 points out their from conversions and not expect pressure to build and inadvertently let the opposition back in a match they probably shouldn’t have been in at all…

      1. Being facetious MarkB. Try count was 6 to 5 in fact. I took the 2 gited NZ tries off SA’s count.. & gave them to the AB’s. Barritt’s boot undoubtedly contributed to the loss, but so did the 2 intercepts, not scoring @ the death. Totalled to 22 pts in all. Anyway, these things happen, but not too often..? Barrett missed 8 pts BTW, i.e., 4 conversions.

        1. My maths is as good as yours then 😉

          Indeed though, as a Bath supporter, have had to suffer exactly the same thing in days gone by, George Ford having a bad day at the office and then the team compounding it by trying too hard to compensate for missing points and giving up intercepts etc!

    2. Whats a “punter deluge”, Don?

      Clearly, New Zealand should have won the game, and you would have to say that they rather gifted in to South Africa. However, in Rugby I don’t believe in “winning lucky”, so the fact that they did enough to profit from the New Zealand errors, gives them a deserved and memorable win.

      It would be difficult to see this as any sort of “change”, unless of course New Zealand cannot rid themselves of the errors. South Africa at Pretoria, with their tails up, will make for an interesting return game, i’ll look forward to that.

      1. A response to my posts? Not a peep prior.

        Was SA’s win as ‘deserved’ as those v England then?

        Perhaps you could define, or redefine, ‘deserved’, especially in view of match stats & 22 gifted.

        Anyway, we’ll indeed look forward to seeing how SA back up in 2 wks time. Perhaps NZ will be so profligate again. Have you put yr house on it?

        1. Not entirely sure on your first sentence Don! Yes, my post was replying (responding) to your post. “Peep prior”?

          Yes, I would say South Africa’s win was as deserved as those vs England.

          Not sure I need to redefine anything. Just re-read my post. Slowly. We are in broad agreement. We both used the word ‘gifted’ in the same context.

          Deservedness comes from the fact that South Africa applied themselves sufficiently so that they could profit from the NZ ‘gifts’ when they came. Unlike many teams who are simply too far ‘blown away’ to do so.

          Why would I put my house (or any sort of bet) on anything? I don’t suggest a result, I am simply looking forward to the game.

          1. Getting a bit bitty now, but I was again bemoaning the fact that there was, @ the time, not a ‘peep’ about the NZ match in terms of blogger comment. Would your explanation of ‘deserved’ equally apply if England had been in NZ’s posi? Somehow doubt it, but each to his own, although you are beginning to remind me of AlexD in terms of objectivity. And are you sure you’re not just looking forward to NZ failing again? You’re under oath now!

                1. You included two (2) questions within your post, Don. I apologise if my two (2) answers confused you.

                  So to clarify your questions, and explain my answers;
                  “Would your explanation of ‘deserved’ equally apply if England had been in NZ’s posi?”

                  Assuming that ‘posi’, is intended as ‘position’, then, my answer is YES. That is; if England had been a position to win the game, but missed several kicks and made a few unforced errors, that allowed South Africa to squeeze home, then yes, I would contend that South Africa had deserved their win.

                  Your second question was “And are you sure you’re not just looking forward to NZ failing again?”.

                  So I should really be careful answering this as it could confuse you. I answered NO initially, with my intent being that NO, I am not just looking forward to New Zealand losing again.

                  That is my view, but on re-reading your tricky question, I realised that I could have also answered YES, in the context of “YES I am sure, that I am NOT just looking forward to New Zealand losing again.”

                  I didn’t really understand your first sentence, so if it was intended as a question i’m afraid I cannot answer that.

                  Shame on me for my previous brevity. But happy to help out.

  4. The author’s comments are as predictable as they are inaccurate & typically subjective. A bit like the Brexit vote which is helping the economy enormously? A Saffa ‘display of power that mirrored the finest Springbok teams’, with ‘exquisite attack’! Did JB actually read the stats? Did SA plan to sit back in their 1/2 for most of the game, give up 75% of the ball/territory, wait for the predictable intercepts & Barrett’s misses? Some game plan. Wonder why they’ve just last to Oz & Argentina then? Is this, so far 1 off (I’m not counting the England tour because of their prior run of losses), result what gives the rest of Europe etc hope? Perlease! Haven’t we been here before.. in Chicago. Need a dose of reality, not subjectivity. It doesn’t serve anyone well.. but do carry on in the insular world.

    1. “The display of power” referenced their defence and the performance of the pack especially du Toit. Bit unfair and irrelevant to compare my work to those Brexiteer fanatics, so what if South Africa had only 75% of the ball when they did have the ball they looked threatening, both of Dyantyi’s tries were sublime.

      I also inferred the Springbok inconsistency when I said “Despite a mixed Rugby Championship so far.”

      Sure you can reference Ireland’s victory in Chicago all you want but the win at the weekend was different. Why? Because it was in New Zealand and the Springboks were very much th underdogs unlike their Irish counterparts in 2016.

      1. My thrust was that you read too much prematurely into this 1 result. The SA pack spent most of the game pinned in their own 1/2 giving a ‘display of power’. I didn’t state, ‘Brexiteer fanatics’. I drew a parallel between perception & economic reality of Brexit, thus far, with perceptions about the Chicago game.. & the subsequent reality of Dublin, regardless of location. Besides SA have beaten NZ in NZ in modern times before, when Ricky January scored the winning try. It didn’t change things much then, so why should it now? It’s just 1 game. If it becomes 2 NZ losses, then you might be on slightly firmer ground. However & we shall soon see, NZ have a record of analysing & fixing match issues or errors. As for, ‘So what if SA only had 75% (? You surely mean 25%) possession, I think any team would normally need a site more than that.

  5. My opening stanza from my 1st post was t in cheek BTW. As usual, there’s no interest outside of the Premier-ship. Ah well, perhaps this’ll change slightly in a yr’s time.

  6. Didn’t Cokanasiga go to South Africa? Or was it Argentina last year? Or both?

    Either way, I would imagine he is very much on the radar still for England. I saw him at the Ashton Gate game and he is huge – far bigger than he appears on TV.

    That said, Wingers seem to be the new Locks for England. Spoilt for choice – who gets left out???

    1. By the way – did anyone see the Sale winger (Odogwu I think). He looked (and ran) like a prop. He was quite easily caught from behind when he was clean through, albeit by Nowell and Slade I think, but it looked like he was running in treacle. Cuthbert also made him look rather foolish when he ghosted around him.

      I seem to recall he was highly regarded at one point but he looked way out of his depth.

  7. Blub
    The powers that be seem to have taken away the ‘reply’ feature from yr last post.

    Gauging by the tone of this tome, you seem a bit peeved?

    Anyway, onwards.

    I wasn’t confused by yr post, just unclear on yr mindset. You didn’t need to apologise for this lack of clarity, or brevity for that matter, esp as you subsequently rectified this, so thanks for helping me out.

    Yes, ‘posi’, indeed means position.

    Thought it was reasonably clear, but I also attempted to have already addressed yr concern about the 1st sentence in my questionable post within the one just above yr ‘Cokanasiga’ (do hope I’ve spelt that right?) post.

    However, I am pleased to learn that you don’t just want to see NZ fail & that you’re looking forward to the next match between the AB’s & SA. Me too, so we both seem to agree on this point @ least?



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