Meyer given food for thought
Springbok rugby coach Heyneke Meyer will spend the next six weeks mulling over his team's inability to complete a 3-0 whitewash against England before the new Four Nations tournament starts with a game against Argentina in August.
England held the Boks to a 14-14 draw in the wet in Port Elizabeth, to end a nine-match losing streak against South Africa. But the home team had already clinched the series 2-0 after victories in Durban and Johannesburg.
The Boks were poor for most of the third test, and battled in several key areas of the game, including the kick and chase and the contest for the ball at the breakdowns.
Meyer and his assistants need to think hard about tactics and personnel, because the All Blacks and the Wallabies, in particular, will be a totally different proposition.
Flyhalf Morne Steyn had a poor match in the driving rain of Port Elizabeth. His goal-kicking has been erratic throughout a series in which he has missed nine shots at goal. By his high standards this constitutes a failure.
Tactically Steyn, under instruction, doggedly stuck to the plan of hoofing up-and-unders which didn't work, for several reasons - not accurate enough, chasers weren't organised enough and occasionally the kicks were taken when chasers weren't set.
"Morne is a worry at the moment as we know he is not playing well," Meyer said after Saturday's third test. "But I thought he played well in the previous two games. Just his kicking was off.
"He has high standards and will come back stronger with at least three Super Rugby games to get himself right. He knows we need him in the Four Nations. I have confidence in him even though he is not striking the ball well."
England's dominance at the breakdown will also force a rethink about the omission of Heinrich Brüssow from the series.
Meyer has said he feels Brüssow concedes too many penalties, but, on the evidence of the June tests across the southern hemisphere, the need for a ball-poacher is as great as ever.
Ireland's best player was Sean O'Brien, Australia's best performer was David Pocock while Sam Warburton of Wales and Richie McCaw and Sam Cane of the All Blacks were among the most influential players for their teams. Even England's Tom Johnson, who disappeared slightly in the second test, came back in the third with an inspired performance.
On the other side of the scrum, blindside flank Willem Alberts' absence in Port Elizabeth was sorely felt, and Meyer will hope Schalk Burger and Duane Vermeulen are fit for the Four Nations.
Meyer insists he won't deviate from the tactical plan the Boks have in place, but it surely will be tweaked.
"Not winning at home is a disappointment; home wins should be a given for the Boks," Meyer said. "But, on the plus side, we have made a positive start and the squad has more depth.
"We laid the foundation I wanted, the culture is there but the third test was a step backwards."