Boks have mountain to climb after woeful Brisbane slump
They failed to keep momentum against the Wallabies, and those 'schoolboy errors' are going to cost them even more against the All Blacks
Springboks coach Rassie Erasmus is running out of excuses and fast.
The Boks slumped to a second successive defeat when they went down to Australia at Suncorp Stadium on Saturday, and it is a case of getting out of the pan and straight into the fire with the All Blacks next on the agenda for them this weekend.
At a wet Brisbane on Saturday the Boks once again conceded an early try.
But they recovered to score two tries from Bongi Mbonambi and Makazole Mapimpi as they took a slender 18-17 lead to the break.
But they failed to maintain momentum after the restart.
Australia, who came into this match on the back of two successive defeats at the hands of the All Blacks, returned from half time the stronger side and camped in the Boks’ half for the better part of the first 10 minutes.
They failed to score a try during those early minutes of dominance after the break as the SA defence stood resolute, but they did enough to force two penalties that proved to be the difference in the end.
Erasmus has some decisions to make this weekend, especially at flyhalf where Elton Jantjies gave a satisfactory all-round performance after he was handed the start ahead of Handre Pollard.
He is likely to go for experience and start the match with Tendai Mtawarira at loose head with Steven Kitshoff returning to the bench and Malcolm Marx returning in place of Mbonambi at hooker.
After the game Erasmus conceded that they committed schoolboy errors, especially in line-outs which resulted in the two Wallaby tries in the first half.
They will have to fix them or the near unbeatable All Blacks will have a feast in Wellington on Saturday.
“You lose a line-out overthrow and you lose a knock-on in the midfield, those are frustrating but the review will tell us a lot about those situations,” Erasmus said.
“It was just mistake after mistake in different areas.
“We have a country that is ruthless in terms of results and I will be the first one to say that I don’t take positives out of a loss because we didn’t win the match.
“But I must commend the players for trying.”
As any sensible coach would do, Erasmus protected the players and took full responsibility for the defeat.
But the reality is that the Boks failed to put even a single point on the scoreboard in the second half because of pressure from the Wallabies.
Of course things could have been different for the Springboks if Francois Louw’s desparate try was not disallowed in the closing stages for a knock-on by Malcolm Marx in the build-up, because a conversion could have given them the lead.
Erasmus did not want to comment much on what might have been with regards to that disallowed try but decided to focus on their next assignment, the outing against the All Blacks.
He admitted that they will be underdogs against the New Zealanders who have only lost once at home since 2009.
On occasions they got things right against Australia on Saturday, especially in the first half after they recovered from being 7-0 inside three minutes.
They looked impressive as they scored two good tries, but there are still more questions than answers regarding the overall performance.
Mapimpi, despite the second try, and the likes of Jantjies, who scored eight points and only missed one conversion, Jesse Kriel, Willie le Roux and Kitshoff had a good day in the office, but they are going to be tested in Wellington.
It will be a mountain to climb in Wellington and Erasmus and his captain, Siya Kolisi, will need to repeat the heroics of the class of 2009 that beat the All Blacks in their own backyard.
Otherwise, the public is losing patience and that does not auger well for Erasmus and the players with the World Cup coming up next year.