Springboks vs Wallabies: Five things we learned

The Rugby Championship
by Sam Phillips

The Wallabies and Springboks couldn't be separated in Bloemfontein.

Here's what we're talking about after the 27-all draw.

1. Koroibete locks in spot

Marika Koroibete was superb in Bloemfontein. Photo: Getty ImagesMarika Koroibete can consider himself hard done by if he loses his starting spot after tonight's performance.

He scored the kind of double he became known for in his time at the Melbourne Storm - two crisp finishes at the end of some slick attack - but it was his defensive work that stood out.

He tackled like a madman in the opening 15 minutes - when the Wallabies could not get their hands on the ball - and didn't let up for the entire 80 minutes.

While there were some quality hits in the tackles that he made, it was the ability to make critical defensive reads and cut the ball off before it got to an overlap that impressed the most.

Was caught out just once in his defensive positioning.

He has taken huge strides in that part of his game.

2. Extra time grows legs

The faces of the Wallabies, despite retaining the Nelson Mandela Plate, says it all. Photo: Getty ImagesThe traditionalists will scowl but there has to be a discussion as to whether extra time would be a better way to finish than drawn Tests.

A five minute break before both teams get to run each way for five minutes would be a simple solution to draws that leave all fans, players and coaches leaving the stadium with a sour taste.

The concept has merit but in fairness, neither side would have walked away from Free State Stadium feeling they should have won.

They both had their chances and they both faltered at critical moments.

A draw was probably a fair result but wouldn't extra time add an extra layer of drama?


3. Chances go begging

While there will be plenty of talk about a bad missed forward pass and a largely poor night for referee Ben O'Keeffe, the Wallabies still only have themselves to blame for this draw.

There were four quantifiable chances for more points tonight that went begging.

In the first half there was the botched Bernard Foley kick for touch when the Wallabies could have had a lineout five out from the Springboks line or pointed to the posts for three points.Bernard Foley and the Wallabies left some points on Free State Stadium. Photo: Getty ImagesThen there was the Will Genia break from the Beale run that should have resulted in a Michael Hooper try but instead ended with a Springbok 22 dropout.

Late in the second half Sean McMahon spilt a carry when the Australians looked to have numbers set for the following phase and then, in the final minute, Nick Phipps spilt the ball at the base of the breakdown when the Australians were setting up for one final crack at the Springbok line.

Yes, there may have been more chance to attack the South Africans if that forward pass had been called back but the Australians still created more than enough to get the job done.

4. Fitness work pays dividends

Almost every Wallaby was out on their feet as they came from the field but that was to be expected in the Highveld.

The Springboks tried to run the Wallabies off their feet and nearly did so with 59 percent of the ball but Michael Cheika's men were still putting in the hard yards come the 80th minute.

Fitness had been spoken about ad nauseam in both June and in the days before this match and when the pressure was on, the Wallabies didn't take a backwards step.


5. Attack keeps growing

The Wallabies showed tonight that they can attack from all parts of the field and score points in situations that they haven't quite mastered before.

In their last two starts they relied on pressure in the opposition half to produce points but tonight, with far less ball, they relied on point production in loose play.

Israel Folau's try was a brilliant set piece play but both of Koroibete's tries were from Foley's work in unstructured play.

Speaking of Foley, he's now slotted his last 20 off the tee, a major boost for any attack.

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