The Springboks slumped to possibly their worst performance since 2017 as they lost 30-17 to the Wallabies in their Castle Lager Rugby Championship match in Brisbane on Saturday.
Captain Siya Kolisi promised the side would be better than the previous week, where they lost to the same team but this performance was arguably a lot worse, as the Boks defence fell to shambles and the scoreline flattered them in a contest that made the Wallabies look like world beaters.
As the Suncorp stadium curse struck again – the Boks have won there once in 20 years – the Springboks now look like World Champions in name only as they lost twice against a side that was soundly beaten by the All Blacks in previous weeks.
And with the All Blacks waiting in two games in the next fortnight, there will need to be a lot of soul-searching from the Springboks, whose No 1 ranking is now very much in doubt.
The frustration of watching this performance was compounded by the fact the Wallabies didn’t need to do anything spectacular to win the contest.
They were handed the ball on so many occasions during the game by unforced errors by the Boks that it was hard to believe this was the side that beat the British and Irish Lions a few weeks ago.
As seems to always happen in Australia, this Springbok team found new ways of putting themselves under pressure and in the process allowed the Wallabies to capitalise on easily the poorest performance since Rassie Erasmus and Jacques Nienaber started coaching the team.
To put it in perspective, Australia scored four tries against the Boks for the first time since 2011, and the much vaunted Bok defence looked terrible, leaking four tries for the first time since 2018 when the All Blacks found the tryline.
Now with the All Blacks waiting for them and in some superb form, the Boks will feel all the pressure on a team that isn’t hitting their straps and could face humiliation in the next two weeks if they don’t find a way of stopping the rot.
Again it was the Boks who looked as if they wanted to beat themselves. And it started with an absolute howler of a decision by Faf de Klerk.
The scrumhalf’s brain-dead decision to slap the ball out of his opposite number Nick White’s hands was an easy yellow card, and cost the Boks 12 points in the process.
If it wasn’t so infuriating that it was tragic, it put the Boks behind the scoreboard and they were forced to find ways of catching up.
Two quick tries by Len Ikitau were all that was needed to make the Boks pay for De Klerk’s indiscretion and it got worse from there.
The fact they did that through the boot of Handre Pollard to be only three points behind at halftime and managed to take the lead just after the break only underlined that there were real frailties in the Wallaby line-up but the Boks just couldn’t seem to find the holes as easily as they should have.
Every time the Boks scored, they allowed the Wallabies back through their own ill-discipline, handling errors and poor play.
The Boks tried to play wide a lot more – whether they were seduced by Clive Woodward’s words and the criticism isn’t clear – but they looked rudderless and went sideways, hardly making the Wallaby defence answer any meaningful questions.
The amount of skip passes made the defence easy to scramble and it was only De Klerk’s grubber that went behind and gave Lukhanyo Am the try to get the lead.
But despite that, they went to pieces when it mattered and given the opportunity the Wallabies pounced, scoring twice from turnover ball to give Marika Koroibete two gift tries that sealed the Bok fate.
In the end a better side than the Wallabies would have put more past these poor Springboks. And that is a massive concern.
And with the All Blacks waiting, the Boks are back at square one. Backs to the wall and fighting their own demons as much as the opposition.
Australia – tries: Marika Koroibete (2), Len Ikitau (2). Conversions: Quade Cooper (2). Penalties: Cooper (2).
South Africa – try: Lukhanyo Am. Penalties: Handre Pollard (4)