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JOHANNESBURG — It seemed more than coincidental that Bok hooker Bongi Mbonambi was substituted just three minutes after a schoolboy howler when he overthrew his lineout, gifting a try to Wallabies centre Matt Toomua. Mbonambi, starting a Test match for only the 4th time in 19 Tests, had scored a try just 20 minutes earlier but was then replaced by Malcolm Marx in the 35th minute. Was this in retribution for the ghastly error at a time when the Boks had a 15-7 lead? It would seem unnecessarily petulant by coach Rassie Erasmus if it was the case. In the post-match news conference, Erasmus said that Mbonambi was taken off because he was “struggling”. He absolved Mbonambi of any blame for the missed lineout throw. But how can a player at an international level have nothing left in the tank after just 35 minutes of a game? Replacements for tired legs normally come midway through the second half, not five minutes before halftime. Erasmus says Mbonambi hasn’t had much game time, which raises serious questions about his conditioning and the work being done by the fitness coach. Why take a player on tour when he isn’t capable of playing even one half of a match? Unless, of course, the early switch was a punishment for the error. If substitutions were the penalty for poor performance, the bench wouldn’t have been big enough for the Boks. By Erasmus’s own admission, too many players made too many mistakes. The Boks face the All Blacks in Wellington next Saturday, where a third successive defeat is surely on the cards, based on the Brisbane experience. – David O’Sullivan
From SA Rugby
The Springboks arrived in Wellington, New Zealand, on Sunday afternoon where they will be based for the week in the build-up to their next match in the Castle Lager Rugby Championship, against the All Blacks on Saturday 15 September in the Westpac Stadium. Kick off time for the evening Test is 09h35 SA time.
The squad completed their customary medicals after settling in at the Rydges Hotel and the players then spent the rest of the afternoon and early evening completing their match recovery.
The Springboks kick off their training schedule on Monday with mid-afternoon field session at Porirua Park. Rassie Erasmus, SA Rugby’s Director of Rugby, will announce the Springbok match 23 on Thursday.
Individual mistakes derailed the Springboks’ ambition of gaining a valuable away win at the Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane on Saturday, as the Wallabies defeated the visitors 23-18 in an error-strewn match.
The home side were trailing 18-17 at the halftime break in this round three match of the Castle Lager Rugby Championship.
Rassie Erasmus, SA Rugby’s Director of Rugby, afterwards bemoaned the many individual mistakes made by the Springboks.
Boks gift Australia 14 points
“To gift 14 points on a platter to a team, you’re (always) going to struggle to win the game,” said Erasmus after the Wallabies took advantage of early Springbok mistakes to score two first half tries.
“I thought our mauling went very well compared to last weekend, the scrums were good in the first half, but then there were moments when we lost vital scrums and lineouts, so it was a mixed bag of different mistakes,” was Erasmus’ assessment of the match.
The stop-start nature of the match meant the Springboks were unable to build any real sustained period of dominance, although this time around, the South Africans made a more positive start to the game than in previous matches so far this year.
“We were awful in the second half and played better in the opening half,” stated the Springbok mentor.
Boks away record since 2015 RWC:
— Derek Alberts (@derekalberts1) September 8, 2018
Boks tackle New Zealand next
The Springboks now travel to New Zealand on Sunday where they will take on the All Blacks in Wellington next Saturday in the second away match of their Australasian tour.
Erasmus admitted that facing the New Zealanders in their own backyard will be a daunting task: “We are playing the best team in the world, we’ve just lost two matches in a row so the pressure is on us.”
South Africa fought their way back after a fast Wallaby start to finish the first half with a one point lead at 18-17, following tries from hooker Bongi Mbonambi and speedster Makazole Mapimpi. Flyhalf Elton Jantjies added a conversion and two penalties.
The Australians ended a run of four losses with their Brisbane success to retain the Nelson Mandela Challenge Shield, while their win means South Africa have now suffered two losses in a row after losing to the Pumas two weeks ago in Mendoza.
Wallabies 23, Springboks 18
Australia – Tries: Michael Hooper, Matt Toomua; Conversions: Toomua (2); Penalties: Toomua (2), Reece Hodge.
South Africa – Tries: Bongi Mbonambi, Makazole Mapimpi; Conversion: Elton Jantjies; Penalties: Jantjies (2).