It’s roundabout now that the knives will come out for Springbok coach Allister Coetzee after his side’s uninspiring performance in their 26-24 defeat to Argentina in Salta on Saturday.
After taking charge of the national team this year, Coetzee currently has a 60 percent winning record in five outings.
If those matches were played against New Zealand and Australia it wouldn’t have sounded as bad as it having been played against Ireland – three – and Argentina.
The big problem for the national coach, though, is that there has been very little progress over these five matches and maybe he has to rethink the personnel he wants to use in order to carry out whatever plan he has.
Right now, fans seems to be a little confused as to the direction Coetzee wants to take with the national team.
It’s something Allister will have to clarify and do so quickly.
There is simply no way of satisfying every single fan, so the best thing for him to do is to follow his instinct, coach the way he believes the game should be played and stick to it.
When Faf de Klerk took a quick tap penalty on Argentina’s 22 with the Boks trailing 23-21 and eight minutes left on the clock, you can only imagine what Coetzee would have thought at the time.
De Klerk didn’t score, but luckily for the little scrumhalf the Boks won the advantage and was awarded a penalty again.
Another moment that stood out was the backlip pass flanker Francois Louw gave to Bryan Habana for the winger to dot down in the second half.
Those two moments sum up what Coetzee is up against best.
Does he allow the players the freedom to go for the 50-50’s, or do they play conservatively?
What is clear is that they will have to go back to the drawing board after this Salta defeat.
South Africa had an opportunity to take the lead as early as the third minute when flyhalf Elton Jantjies missed a penalty kick.
It was the first of three missed opportunities at goal for the Boks, while the Pumas successfully converted all of their chances.
And after what can only be described as a boring first quarter, the deadlock was finally broken by the boot of Jantjies when he successfully converted a penalty kick in the 21st minute.
Nicolas Sanchez levelled matters a couple of minutes later when Damian de Allende was penalised for not releasing the ball on the ground.
Argentina deservedly took the lead after 30 minutes, when Sanchez converted a second penalty (6-3).
Sensing they had the upper hand, the Pumas went on the run and was rewarded with a try by utility back Joaquin Tuculet (13-3).
With Jantjies missing another shot at goal on the stroke of half time, that was how the score remained when the two teams entered the tunnel for the break.
The pivot, though, rectified his earlier mistakes by converting a penalty kick after the break (13-6).
The Boks then looked like they will be coming back from the dead again, with Louw’s delightful pass freeing up Habana to score (13-13).
Suddenly it was game on and it was the Pumas’ turn to score after a Juan Martin Hernandez cross-kick fell into the hands of Juan Manuel Leguizamon, who dotted down (20-13).
With Morné Steyn, who replaced the injured Jantjies, missing another penalty, Hernandez kicked one for the Pumas to extend their lead to 23-13 with 25 minutes left on the clock.
Steyn got the Boks back to within touching distance of their hosts 10 minutes later, successfully converting a penalty kick this time around (23-16).
And when replacement Pieter-Steph du Toit dotted over for the Boks’ second try, it was 23-21 after Steyn’s missed conversion.
Then seven minutes from time the Boks got a penalty, which De Klerk then decided to run with.
Unfortunately, he couldn’t get the five points, but fortunately for the Boks they earned another penalty which Steyn slotted home (24-23).
It looked like Coetzee’s charges would be performing another Houdini act, until a Santiago Iglesias penalty three minutes from time kicked them into reality.