In the 69th minute at Newlands on the weekend it was 8-10 to the Wallabies. Just 10 minutes later South Africa had smashed Australia 28-10. The following analysis is a therapeutic aid to help me come to closure by answering the question: WTF happened in the last 10 at Newlands?
Up until the 69th minute the test had been a good armwrestle with the Wallabies punching their own weight. Indeed it took 28 phases for the Boks to get into a position where they could take a drop goal to open up a 11-10 lead.
That droppie wasn’t straight forward either. I say Beale did a good job getting as close as he did to charging down Lambie who was perfectly positioned. Rod Kafer will tell you he stuffed it by not keeping his eye on the ball and into his face. Either way it was not enough.
What follows though is the turning point of the match. Now a point ahead, the try that comes means that the Wallabies will need a converted try to regain the lead. How this try was conceded by the Wallabies was a catalogue of errors.
Error 1 – Phipps’ turnover
From the restart South Africa exits with the Wallaby line out on about their 10 metre line. After a couple of phases, Phipps’ pass at the edge of the ruck is turned over – an aborted inside ball to Folau – which gives the Springboks ruck ball in the position pictured below.
Error 2 – Defensive mis-match
This lineup would be fine if it had stopped at Ashley-Cooper, but what Higginbotham and Hanson are doing out there is unfathomable; the Wallabies know the ball has been turned over as Phipps and Folau have dropped back in cover and there is no Bok on the short side of the field outside of the winger.
As a result the Wallabies are seriously outgunned on the open side which Foley has spotted and commenced a full throttle Harold.
Error 3 – The Jam
South Africa has a 5 on 4 with Devilliers and Hendricks lining out wide to stretch the advantage. In this situation, if the Wallabies play a drift defence the side-line should become their extra defender. Foley and Kuridrani both run lines to this effect – moving sideways across the advantage line.
Unfortunately Horwill and Beale don’t, instead electing to jam up in defence. If you’re going to try this approach you must hit the man with the ball. Neither do and it is shifted on to Serfontein who takes advantage of the dogleg created in the defence, slicing inside an exposed Foley and outside a floundering Horwill.
Error 4 – Hooper’s drop
Credit where it’s due – Serfontein makes the line break, draws Horne and passes perfectly to Hendricks who steps two cover defenders beautifully in Beale and Phipps. He’s just about to get away from Folau when Kuridrani monsters him from behind. Kuridrani manages to get to his feet and force a supporting DeVilliers to clear out, exposing the ball. Horwill comes from a Kiwi onside position (from the side) and turns the ball over. The scramble defence has worked.
Horne picks the ball up and drives forward. He’s scragged just through the ruck, but is clear and manages to pop the ball for Hooper. As you will see the pop is just above knee height but Hooper isn’t expecting it and drops the ball. A second later he’s hit. You’ve seen the Tahs do this time and again through the season, but at the end of a tight test it looks as if fatigue has taken its toll.
Error 5 – lack of urgency in realignment
The other thing to notice in the image above is the lack of realignment happening near the breakdown, and those who are there – Carter and Beale – are walking, which will come to bite them in the arse seconds later. Following Hooper’s knock on (even if he had taken it, who would have been there in support?) Lambie shifts the ball to Du Plessis who for a moment considers taking on Carter, but then notices the chasm of space to his right.
Bissie steps a flatfooted Carter with ease, and manages to get on the outside shoulder of Beale, thus taking him and the only-just-to-his-feet Kuridrani out of play, before offloading to DeVilliers for the try in the corner.
While it’s a well executed play by Du Plessis, through their lack of urgency in realignment the Wallabies had left the door wide open. It was disappointing because those players who had made the effort to get back – Hanson, Carter and Beale – didn’t get the job done in the end.
Note also that the only Walllaby replacements who haven’t made it into the frame by the end are the two props and Higginbotham. Hanson – who was outside of Higginbotham in the original lineup, made it back – but not the back rower.
So there you have it – it was five errors in the space of 23 seconds that started the rot for Wallabies in Newlands, the majority of which were made by the bench. No wonder Link wasn’t pleased.
Now to see if I can face the next eight and a half minutes……