Takeaways from Round One of the Rugby Championship

Takeaways from Round One of the Rugby Championship

The Springboks comprehensively beat the Wallabies in the opening round of the Rugby Championship while the All Blacks managed to avoid defeat against a fired-up Los Pumas side.


We take a looking at what we have learned from the opening round of Rugby Championship.

The Springboks are building depth

With a number of the Springboks' star players already in New Zealand, a 'Springbok B team' were able to claim a comfortable win over the Wallabies.

The Boks were in fine form against the Australians as they finished the round as top placed side in the competition running in five tries to claim a 35-17 victory.

The one big take away for the Springboks is how the fringe players stepped up and put their hand up for a place in the Rugby World Cup squad with Springbok coach Rassie Erasmus praising a number individual performances saying “A few guys certainly put their hands up for Rugby World Cup selection and although there was some rustiness and all our combinations weren’t settled, we are still happy with the win,”.

Debutant Herschell Jantjies was superb in the starting line up grabbing a double while Francois Steyn was particularly brilliant on his return to test rugby providing his side with front foot ball.

The result in Johannesburg bodes well for the Springboks preparations for the World Cup as they now have three quality scrum-halves to call upon for the showpiece in Japan while there are a number of battles for places throughout the squad.

The Wallabies need to start Beale

The Wallabies dominated possession and territory for most of the game in Johannesburg but failed to unlock the Springbok defence regularly. 

However, when the likes of Will Genia, Matt Toomua and Kurtley Beale finally entered the fray, things changed for the Wallabies with Beale, in particular, making a positive impact on the game.

The Waratahs playmaker sliced through the Bok defence after Toomua and Genia combined well to get the Wallabies on the front foot. Beale then produced a lovely offload to Foley who ran in the try completing the Wallabies most pleasing attack of the night.


Whether Beale is used at fullback to replace Israel Folau or at inside centre, the Wallabies have to get the veteran into the starting line to keep their attack ticking over.

The combination of Samu Kerevi and Tevita Kuridrani promised so much without delivering while Tom Banks was solid at the back without producing an outstanding performance.

Beale's versatility means he can slot into either of those two positions with a moments notice as he showed at Ellis Park.

 

Argentina must not be taken lightly

The Pumas sent out a warning signal to the rest of the rugby world on Saturday when they came agonisingly close to upsetting the All Blacks in Buenos Aires.

The Argentines were strong up front and delivered some great attacking plays in the backs but in the end they were the masters of their own undoing with Brodie Retallick's interception try ultimately being the difference between the two sides.

The South Americans can't be blamed for being a bit off the pace in the Rugby Championship opener with all but two of the players starting having not been involved in the Super Rugby Final in Christchurch with the All Blacks resting most of their players from the clash.

What will bode well for Mario Ledesma's side is that they can only get better with the likes of Santiago Cordero and Facundo Isa, among others, who are still yet to make their returns to the test side.

The All Blacks can win ugly

More of a reminder than something new we have learnt but the All Blacks proved that even without the experience of over 300 test caps in Sam Whitelock, Owen Franks and Kieran Read they are able to claim wins. 

The All Blacks looked rusty and tried out new combinations and patterns against the Pumas and were still able to hold out for a win. 

Jordie Barrett played a particularly unorthodox role as he often came off his wing to play first-receiver while Steve Hansen also tested out some of his youth handing out four debuts.

The game in Buenos Aires was far from a trademark All Black attacking display and the side will surely be boosted by their returning stars ahead of the Springbok test.

However, the result does show that All Blacks are beatable but they are able to grind out a win when they aren't playing well.

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