Malcolm Marx. Picture: GALLO IMAGES/STEVE HAAG
Malcolm Marx. Picture: GALLO IMAGES/STEVE HAAG

Yokohama — Malcolm Marx and Steven Kitshoff struggled to put their finger on it.

They were in agreement‚ however‚ that the All Blacks found ways of disrupting the Springboks’ scrum and it did not help that referee Jérôme Garcès failed to bring clarity to an area that is clear as mud.

“It’s hard to say‚” said Marx after the Boks went down 23-13 to the All Blacks. “There were one or two calls that went our way and one or two that didn’t. The All Blacks have a quality set-piece.

“It was always going to be tough to execute our plan against them‚” said Marx. “It was really tough. They came with a certain plan to try to disrupt our set-piece‚ especially scrum time. We didn’t see a consistent picture and everything changed at each scrum. We just have to assess and adapt to the situation much quicker.”

Kitshoff was adamant the Boks need to think on their feet and develop the wherewithal to find real-time solutions.

“They disrupted what we planned. We need to fix it on the field. You have to find solutions while we are playing. You can’t say afterwards that this and that went wrong.”

Marx admits it is easier said than done. “Everything happens so quickly‚ you easily see what goes wrong‚” he said.

The Boks’ troubles have been compounded by the calf injury sustained by  replacement tighthead prop Trevor Nyakane, who is likely to miss the rest of the tournament.

Apart from Frans Malherbe‚ who has struggled to find his best form this season‚ Vincent Koch is next in line to crack the nod in the starting line-up.

Nyakane will probably be replaced by Thomas du Toit, who was part of the squad for much of the build-up to the Rugby World Cup and was apparently devastated at the news of his omission. He may now earn a belated call-up on the basis of being able to pack down either side of the scrum. Coenie Oosthuizen also ticks that box while bringing ferocious ball-carrying skills.

There may‚ however‚ be some consideration for jetting in a tight-head specialist like Wilco Louw‚ especially with Malherbe being short of his best.

Marx‚ who played with the vigour that netted him the players’ player-of-the-year award at the 2018 BrightRock Players Choice Awards, was happy with the Boks’ performance in the line-outs.

“Our line-out went decently‚” he said. “We couldn’t get our maul going because of their sacking. That worked pretty well for them. Our set-piece was pretty accurate.

“We can’t cry over spilt milk. This result didn’t go our way so now we start prepping for next week’s game.”

Apart from having the odd scrum malfunction, Kitshoff also pointed to the ruck as an occasional source of frustration.

“Sometimes you felt you have the ball and it doesn’t go your way. It was a real physical confrontation.”