Experienced rugby scribe Dan Retief gives three reasons why a Bok victory is not possible. And it’s hard to differ . . .
Ever since the draw for the 2015 World Cup was announced it was apparent that if things went according to expectation in the pool stages, the Springboks and the All Blacks would meet in the semi-finals.
So let me get straight to the point – I just can’t see the Springboks beating the All Blacks on Saturday. Under Heyneke Meyer the Springboks have lost to them six out of seven times.
But what really sways me is this: the Springboks seem intent on playing only one way.
It has long been a view that if you stand up to the Boks’ physically there is no fall-back plan. The All Blacks’ know this.
But the Kiwis will also have paid particular attention to the matches against Japan and Wales and noticed the areas in which the Boks fall down; either for affirmation of their own views or to work out new tactics. Here are three of them:
Out wide: Against Japan they would have seen that the Springboks struggle when the ball is taken quickly wide and they will concentrate on moving the Bok pack around.
At the back: Against Wales they would have picked up the gaping spaces that tend to open up behind the backline. The Boks don’t employ a sweeping loose forward (normally the No8) and their wings tend to stand deep for touchline kicks – leaving the gap which Willie le Roux failed to close and which Dan Biggar exploited for Wales. Dan Carter will be sitting up and taking notice; he has run into his best form at just the right time.
Schalk: The All Blacks will have noticed how often the ball goes to Schalk Burger and will have a plan for that.
Wales were able to turn over quite a bit of ball against the Boks and create possible scoring opportunities. Such chances will not be squandered by New Zealand.
To win the Boks would have to bottle up the All Blacks for a full 80 minutes. But not this side. Not this time.
The facts coursing through my mind, I’m afraid, completely outweigh the emotions in my heart.