Hougaard on fire!

That second 40 from the Boks made for excellent entertainment! It was just wonderful to see the lighties Francois Hougaard, Juan de Jongh, Gio Aplon, and to a lesser degree, Pat Lambie, carving up the Namibian side with gay abandon …

It was also good to see Bryan Habana eventually become South Africa’s all-time leading try scorer as the Boks hammered Namibia 87-0. He took his try tally to 39, taking him one clear of Joost van der Westhuizen, and afterwards tried very hard to look nonchalant and stern, but it must have felt like both Toks and Kobus had jumped off his back …

This Bok side took yet another important step forward today, having in the past not always been capable of really putting away sides that do not belong on the same turf as them. It was not always pretty, and for 25 minutes or so in the first half, when the Boks moved away from their basics, instead trying to play a wild running game their skill set does not allow, and is difficult to do without foundation in any case, it looked like they might allow Namibia into the game.

But they pulled themselves toward themselves and dished out the expected hiding, in the process running in 12 tries, some of them truly breathtaking …

I said prior to the match that the potential hiccup of playing the dirt trackers in the big wins like this one is that the so called B team players look fantastic, and thus confuse the selection process.

Thus being aware of that very trap, I can state with great clarity that I believe Francois Hougaard has to start for the Boks – based on more than just the incredible performance against Namibia. He is not only the best scrummie in the squad but also the best wing, and I would be more than happy to see him start in either position. But perhaps the calm that Du Preez brings to the side, along with the crucial role he plays in the Bok game plan, should see the incumbent keep his place, even though woefully out of form.

And that would see Hougaard on the wing, meaning that one of JP Pietersen or Habana would have to depart the scene. Well, it’s a no-brainer really … Record holder or not, Habana’s form this year does not warrant a place in the Springbok starting lineup. Time to say thanks and change that guard.

I can see why the Boks did not need a fetcher against Namibia … The heavy roller was brought out, and Namibia were used as a 5th day cricket pitch sporting cracks that would have given Shane Warne a woody. Schalk Burger was good, as was Willem Alberts (although he would have come a distant third to Hougaard and Aplon if I had been naming the Man Of the Match), and even Pierre spies did some good, although the Boks need to see a lot more from him. But I would still start the serious games with a fetcher, and no doubt the battered Heinrich Brussow would have enjoyed his day off given what is to come.

We have known this from the outset, but today confirmed that outside of Jannie du Plessis, the Boks really are short on tightheads. The Bok scrum was powerful against a really weak Namibian pack, but that power was coming from Gurthro Steenkamp down the left hand side. CJ van der Linde held his own on the other side, but was not dominant, and was completely missing in action round the park.

And then it happened …

Hoping he had learnt his lesson in the Tri-Nations match against Australia, Peter de Villiers proved again that a leopard cannot change his spots by moving JohnSmit to tighthead prop!! Coronaries were the order of the day for all fans with just an ounce of a brain cell as Smit was penalised in the very first scrum he started after the move. What more needs to be done to teach the coach that this sort of move will cost the Boks the World Cup? Is one of the definitions of insanity not learning from one’s mistakes? Was he hoping to prove everyone wrong by letting Smit have a few OK scrums against Namibia? For please …

He is obviously desperate to keep both Steenkamp and Beast in the 22, and the only way he can do that, without having two props on the bench and thus limiting himself to a 5 /2 split, is to have Smit as his backup tighthead. But I am afraid he is going to have to make a big call and pick one of the two looseheads to start, and play CJ from the bench – because he can play both sides of the scrum. Pretty tough on the loosehead who misses out, but these are the calls that coaches need to make …

So it leaves the coach with a few tough calls to make, but that is a good thing. These Boks are starting to look like the real deal, with every positive step bringing with it the confidence needed to win the tough games, of which there are a few to come …

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2 Responses to “Hougaard on fire!”

  1. stevefarrell82 Says:

    Agree 100% re Hougie. He is electric at the moment and we cannot have him getting splinters for 50 minutes. Drop Habana. Simple.

    I would have Gio on the bench and drop Habana entirely out of the 22. If we are down by a few in the knockout rounds, Gio is far more likely to light the fire than Habana at present!

    Great game, come on Bokke!

  2. Kobus du Plessis Says:

    I agree 100%. Analise Hougard’s passing technique from scrummy position. The ball comes out quik and speeds up the pace of the game. When the center or whom ever is there, recieves the ball, its flat and infront of the player. This puts the defence on the back foot and the advantage line is breached. When Fourie passes the ball, its almost to far back, thus the recieving player gets the ball in a still standing position. This puts the recieving player on the back foot and gives the advantage to the defence.

    Hougard is in really good shape and his presance was felt in a big way today.

    As for John Smit. I cant see how the couching staff can say his more valueble as the captian on the field compared to what Bismark brings to the field. Hopefully John is rested and Bismark is played against Samoa.

    We must have the best bench in the world with young talent with the likes of de Jong and Aplon.

    Brayn Habana’s last try for the boks previous to today’s was against Italy in June 2010. I really dont rate him at all. And then he’s got the nerve to speak about himself in the third person. Come on….. do you really think your that good. Let me just remind you that you scored against Namibia ( for the first time in what, 15 months.) His entire career is based on a couple of intersep tries. My question is, how much talent is required for that? Compared to the magic we saw in Hougaard today..

    Enjoy the weekend,

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