Five things we learned from Suncorp Stadium
September 7, 2013
Australia had no answer to South Africa's physicality © Getty Images
The contrast of South Africa's form compared with Australia's is akin to day and night. The Boks are three from three in the Rugby Championship while Australia are floundering without a win to their name. The Boks enjoyed large spells of dominance in their match against Australia on Saturday and ESPNscrum looks at five things which caught our eye during the Test in Brisbane.
Australia are a mess
Ewen McKenzie was hailed as the saviour when he took over from Robbie Deans, but you can imagine the Kiwi probably has a wry smile on his face at the moment as he watches the new boss of the Wallabies finding out the magnitude of the task he faces. Yes the home side were without talismanic skipper James Horwill, and they still have the likes of David Pocock and Scott Higginbotham on the sidelines, but they should have had more about them than the meagre performance they put in on Saturday.
They look devoid of inspiration and any nous of how to unpin the opposition side's defence, and they simply bounce from breakdown to breakdown hoping for a gap to magically appear. The Boks had it very easy against Australia; their tryline was seldom troubled as the Wallabies didn't engineer opportunities to get points on the board despite what looked to be promising spells of play. McKenzie's side has huge amounts of ability but it is all about getting that mix right. They come up against Argentina next weekend in Perth, and simply must win.
Wallabies no closer to solving fly-half dilemma
Quade Cooper struggled to get a hold of the game on Saturday with his opposite number, Morne Steyn, putting the Boks in the right areas of the pitch on a frequent basis. Cooper found he had less space than he enjoys in Super Rugby, with the Boks quick to close him down whenever he got the ball flung in his direction. There were times he tried to push the tempo of the match, but he found his runners working on a different wavelength for much of the game.
Is Matt Toomua the answer? On the evidence of his performances against the All Blacks, he too is finding it hard to unleash the Wallabies' huge array of talent in the back division. Establishing that right balance at No.10 is key to any development for this batch of Wallabies. They have the skills and the best No.9 in world rugby, but it's all about fine tuning that cocktail to get the right potency in their attack.
South Africa's physicality is second to none
South Africa had the run of Suncorp © Getty Images
Francois Louw, Willem Alberts and Duane Vermeulen - they have a combined weight of 342kg and a terrifying amount of power between them. At the moment, only the All Blacks come close to boasting that array of talent in a back-row, and the Boks are reaping the benefits of the trio's ability. It is scary to think they have Pierre Spies watching from Pretoria as he looks to come back from his biceps injury.
All three put in huge shifts on Saturday, and, around them, the Boks have physicality from 1 to 15. If Eben Etzebeth continues his international career in the manner he has started, then he will go on to reach three figures' worth of caps. He's also gigantic. The likes of Bryan Habana and Jean de Villiers are hardly shrinking violets but they can also shift the ball and make quick metres - the perfect combination.
Get the ball to Folau!
Australia's best player hardly saw the ball on Saturday. He was leaping around like a kangaroo for the whole 80 minutes trying to get his eager paws on the pill, but, try as he might, his team-mates never put him in the same sort of space in which he put the British & Irish Lions to the sword in that first Test back in June.
He did well at fullback and looks settled there in defence, but you feel Australia need to shift him into a position where he can do some damage when they are attacking. He made 48 metres with ball-in-hand, but the other 14 players on the field must help him increase that against the Pumas next weekend.
Boks will give Kiwis a real game
Next weekend's game in Auckland is mouth-watering. While the two winless sides are battling it out in Perth, all eyes will be on the game between the All Blacks and the Springboks - two sides packed with power, precision and prowess trying to find those mini breaks and bits of luck from which tries can be scored. The Kiwis will be without Richie McCaw, but they have an embarrassment of riches ready to step in. For the Boks, they are showing their best form since 2007, and the win in Brisbane on Saturday gives them the added confidence that they can go to Eden Park and get the win. It will be a titanic tussle, and hard to call.
© Getty Images
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Tom Hamilton is the Assistant Editor of ESPNscrum.
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