RWC: Boks find attacking groove at perfect time

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The attacking flow the Springboks found in the 35 minutes that mattered most in Tuesday’s Rugby World Cup clash against Canada in Kobe came at the perfect time as they head into the play-offs, writes Quintin van Jaarsveld.

South Africa had scored 17 tries heading into their final Pool B assignment at Kobe Misaki Stadium, a stat that suggests they’re a tornado-like force with ball-in-hand. The reality, however, is that the offence largely idled against the All Blacks, Namibia and Italy, the backline failing to get out of first gear and fully punish sides for the pack’s physical dominance.

Aside from the electrifying Cheslin Kolbe, the Springbok backs were generally stale, predictable and collectively sans rhythm. Rassie Erasmus acknowledged the stuttering attack after the 49-3 win over Namibia in Shizuoka, in which his charges scored nine tries, saying, “We will work on attack, but we know we are really good at being physical. It doesn’t matter if it’s ugly or not, as long as we can get over the line.”

Tuesday’s mission for the men in Green and Gold, therefore, was two-fold – secure the expected win to cement a place in the quarterfinals and find that sought-after attacking edge. The Boks ticked both of those boxes in the 66-7 win, especially in the first half, celebrating South Africa’s 500th Test, dating back to since 1891, by playing champagne rugby.

Admittedly, it got sloppy in the second half, but when it was still a true contest, prior to Canada lock Josh Larson’s red card for a dangerous cleanout on Thomas du Toit five minutes before half-time, the Springboks were on fire. Granted, the level of the opposition opened a flood of attacking opportunities, but the accuracy and execution of the Springboks would’ve unlocked even the best of defences.

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