South Africa’s performance against Samoa at Villa Park in the 2015 RWC was outstanding. It steadied the ship after the Springboks had lost 34-32 to Japan a week earlier. It was a step in the right direction, not atonement. They are still in the cup and if they were going to lose any match it’s better to lose a pool match rather than in the knockout stages.
Has the Samoa victory put things right? It’s put many things right but there are many questions of the Bok game that were not asked by the Samoans. Samoa lost their chance of winning the game with their dismal lineout performance an area where I think Scotland with the Gray brothers will ask questions of South Africa. It not only starved the Samoans of possession it more specifically starved them of possession in crucial parts of the field for them.
So Samoa failed to put the Springboks under pressure through attack and on the scoreboard. After Mike Stanley threw the intercept pass so too, it seemed, went his radar when kicking at posts. So in a sense the Boks were allowed breathing space to grow into the game.
South Africa did grow into the game and the further the game went on the more you could see the confidence build. Duane Vermeulen coming back from an injury lay-off really started coming into the game in the second half. Fourie du Preez was very good too.
The Boks were going forward and dominated for such large parts of the game, which means they were never really tested going backwards. It’s easy to look good when always going forward.
The victory against Samoa is exactly what South Africa needed. Now they need to remain humble and not take anything for granted again. I think many Springboks can improve through this tournament and if they do South Africa might make history once again only this time for the right reasons.