Bok defence lays foundation

Tank Lanning

The French missed 4 less tackles than the Boks in Durban on Saturday! And the visitors actually kicked one more time than the home side …

However, the Boks were asked to make 112 more tackles than the French, thus delivering an astonishing tackle success rate of 93% (to the 88% of the visitors), and from one fewer kick, the Boks carved off 118 more metres than the visitors.

That ten to twelve minute period in the second half that saw the Boks defending their line in the face of all the French had to offer, defined this Springbok effort. Character, guts, playing for each other, playing for the jersey, heart, courage … and all those good things that build up belief, were apparent by the bucket load for all to see.

A joy to watch.

Franco Mostert – unsung perhaps, but a vital cog in this Bok transition – made a truly monstrous 25 tackles. Jan Serfontein, in what was without doubt his best performance in a Bok jersey, made 18 tackles, while the man of the moment, Siya Kolisi, made 17, 4 of which were dominant. It was a magnificent defensive effort, both individually, and structurally.

Kolisi shines as Boks clinch series

This while the kicking stats speak to Elton Jantjies’ growth as the Bok backline general. From 6 kicks, he carved of a massive 220m, to that of Francois Trinh-Duc’s 125 metres from 5 kicks. As such the Boks found themselves playing in the right area of the field, and working their attacking magic where it counts – in the opposition half, and using the first 5 or 6 phases, not the last 18 or 20.

There was a moment in the 23rd minute that really pleased me, though. Mostert was asked to carry it up, but instead of just putting his head down and smashing into the trees, he looked for a bit of a gap, and shifted the pass to Kolisi on his shoulder, so he could run into it. That is some proper growth in the Bok rugby IQ and very encouraging indeed.

Look, the fact that the French could only make 3.5m per carry – half that of the Boks, does speak to a continued lack of execution and penetration. They are not a great side, and look tired at the end of a long season.

So yes, the Boks will need to improve in order to take on the mighty All Blacks, but in comparison to 2016, what we have seen in 2017 is light years ahead of where they were.

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A look at all the match stats:

Match information:

Points: SAF 37-15 FRA

Tries: SAF 4-2 FRA

Penalty goals: SAF 3-2 FRA

Conversions: SAF 4-1 FRA

Goal kicking %: SAF 88%-75% FRA

Possession: SAF 65% – 35% FRA

Territory: SAF 57% – 43% FRA

Yellow cards: SAF 0-0 FRA

Ball in play: 33 minutes


Attacking stats:

Ball Carries: SAF 55-140 FRA

Metres run: SAF 388-488 FRA

Metres per carry: SAF 7-3.5 FRA

Line breaks: SAF 3-1 FRA

Tackle breaks: SAF 0-7 FRA

Passes: SAF 101-177 FRA

Good Passes: SAF 100-153 FRA

Offloads: SAF 1-15 FRA

Rucks won: SAF 54-122 FRA

Rucks lost: SAF 0-2 FRA

Mauls won: SAF 4-4 FRA

Mauls lost: SAF 0-0 FRA


Defensive stats:

Tackles made: SAF 191-79 FRA

Tackles missed: SAF 15-11 FRA

Tackle success: SAF 93% – 88% FRA

Dominant tackles: SAF 10-0 FRA

Tackle turnover: SAF 1-1 FRA


Kicking stats:

Kicks from hand: SAF 13-14 FRA

Metres kicked: SAF 355-227 FRA


Error stats:

Handling errors: SAF 18-21 FRA

Penalties conceded: SAF 8-6 FRA

Ruck penalties: SAF 1-0 FRA

Scrum penalties: SAF 1-1 FRA

Offside penalties: SAF 2-1 FRA


First phase stats:

Lineouts won: SAF 13-7 FRA

Scrums won: SAF 4-2 FRA

Own kickoffs won: SAF 0-0 FRA

Own kickoffs lost: SAF 4-7 FRA

CLICK HERE for in-depth match and player stats from the game, or CLICK HERE for in depth stats for the entire French series.

- Tank Lanning

Let's chat

  • Hopeful

    You have to admire the work put in by Mostert….what an animal…That’s pure heart right there!!

    Etzebeth – Great game and extremely reliable, this guy is super talented…he is going to be a handful for every team he plays against….I enjoy his confrontational mannerism and he certainly plays rugby the way it ought to be played….just like Uli Schmidts father said it should be played!!!

  • Jedi Pimp

    The possession and territory stats are surprising. France seemed to dominated these facets.

    Any way it’s great to see the Springboks play with some structure especially with the new commitment in defense with quicker re-positioning of the tackler in the defensive line after a ruck, driving the opposing players backwards , and quicker line speed.

    Even with very little attacking opportunities, the Springboks made the most of their chances, selecting half gaps and kicking into space with a good kick chase. Again it was good defense, awareness of space and a committed chase in Kolisis’ try, that pressured the French in making desperate passes.

    This is an improvement from 2016 where we ran into opposition players and kicked out of desperation with very little effort in trying to regather possession.

    Credit to the planning by the coaching staff and the team culture being built. This might be premature but Pride in the Springbok Jersey is back in 2017.

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