Saturday was a great rugby laboratory for the Boks. We face both these teams in the pools in the fall. What are the lessons from an epic first half and the Scottish fade in the second?
The first half showed that Scotland’s starters can be very competitive against the top teams. But the replacement pack was destroyed in the scrums and the lineout struggled throughout. With those two weaknesses the Bok pack should provide plenty of opportunities. Can the Scots fix them before the WC…certainly the lineouts should be fixable. And there are other front row options that could fix the sub scrum.
If they do that the Scottish backs were quite penetrative in the first half. But with the disciplined Irish defense as the game progressed, Russell was not really able to unlock the deference as in other 6 Nations game. Again the Nienaber defense in 2019 guise should do the same….but do we still have that focus.
The most sobering thing for the Boks is how professionally Ireland defused Scotland, even with the loss of key players. The other interesting development was how effectively Hansen and Lowe played roving rolls to unlock Scotland. Hansen in particular.
Ireland have multiple attacking threats, although the loss of Ringrose may hurt. Which pretty much means if we can’t establish forward superiority we are not favorites to beat Ireland. The Hansen try where he plucked the ball out of Duhan’s hands, also illustrates the threat from their wings on the high ball, which might have some implications for some our wing choices.
The chance that we will beat Ireland with the usual mix of penalties and mauls seems uncertain. Both the teams on Saturday defended the maul pretty well.
So some of our recent successful weapons…the high ball and the maul in particular may not be as effective in these key pool games. I think the scrum and the lineout should still work for us particularly against Scotland. But we may find ourselves in very tight matches…hopefully we will have a few surprises of our own and hopefully we don’t have any liability players in key positions