Cape Town – Regardless of who you were supporting, Saturday’s Twickenham Test between the Springboks and England was a difficult one to watch.
Stop-start in nature with routine errors and one-dimensional attack plaguing the 80 minutes, this was far from the best advertisement for international rugby.
England will leave more than happy with the victory, but if they are honest with themselves then this was not the type of performance that encourages a title challenge at next year’s World Cup in Japan.
The hosts were tryless, while the Boks scored just one as they failed to take advantage of several points-scoring opportunities.
The list of work-ons for both sides will be extensive.
The hit from Owen Farrell after the hooter certainly left a bad taste, but the Boks were far from their best. Even so, they still did enough to warrant a shot at goal to win the game at the end.
The fact that they were robbed of that opportunity by one of the worst refereeing decisions you could ever hope to see makes this a tough one to take for the Boks, but there is no time to dwell.
The Boks need to fix their lineout quickly. There can be no excuses in this department. They have more than capable jumpers while Malcolm Marx is considered one of the best hookers in the business. Winning balls on the ground means nothing if you can’t find your own jumpers, and Marx will know that he needs to be significantly better against France in Paris this weekend.
The Boks must now look to finish this tour with three victories and end 2018 on a high.
So, what changes in personnel can we expect to see for the France clash?
Well, one forced change sees Eben Etzebeth out with an ankle injury that is likely to see the lock return to South Africa in the coming days.
RG Snyman is the logical replacement there, while JD Schickerling could see himself included on the bench.
Franco Mostert, meanwhile, has joined up with the squad and is in line for a return after the confusion that has surrounded his move from the Lions to Gloucester.
With the international Test window now open, Erasmus could also potentially call on his overseas-based players for what has become a must-win.
Faf de Klerk’s club, Sale Sharks, said last month that their star player would not feature at all for the Boks in November, so that is one selection that Erasmus might not be able to get right.
Willie le Roux, though, could make a return to the No 15 jersey.
Damian Willemse was more than competent at Twickenham, but Le Roux has become one of the Boks’ biggest weapons.
His experience, form and knowledge of northern hemisphere conditions combine to make him difficult to ignore, and of all the overseas options, Le Roux emerges as the most attractive.
Francois Louw is another, but Erasmus will have to think long and hard about the make-up of his loose trio.
Warren Whiteley was solid enough at No 8, while Duane Vermeulen was seamless in moving from the back to the side of the scrum.
If Du Toit is moved back to No 7 to accommodate the return of Mostert at No 5, then Whitely could find himself sidelined with Vermeulen moving back to No 8.
Captain Siya Kolisi, though poor against England, will retain his place.
The loose trio one area where it remains difficult to predict what the coach will do.
In the front row, we could see Wilco Louw coming in for Frans Malherbe while Marx and Steven Kitshoff will keep their places.
Elsewhere, Erasmus is unlikely to make too many wholesale changes.
Handre Pollard will continue at flyhalf while Damian de Allende had one of his best Tests against England. Jesse Kriel, meanwhile, is also enjoying an impressive run of consistency.
Out wide, Aphiwe Dyantyi and S’bu Nkosi will also surely keep going.
The likes of Cheslin Kolbe and Gio Aplon will be available for France, and while their knowledge of that country works in their favour, there just doesn’t seem to be space for a starting berth.
If the Boks had won on Saturday, Erasmus may have been tempted to back some of the fringe players against France.
But now that the coach is desperate to return to winning ways, he may be reluctant to change too much from a Bok side that dominated against England without getting the reward.