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Can New Zealand be beaten?

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JOHANNESBURG, South Africa, 05 October 2013 : Kieran Read of the All Blacks celebrates the victory with his try during the Castle Lager Rugby Championship test match between SOUTH AFRICA and NEW ZEALAND at ELLIS PARK  in Johannesburg, South Africa on 05 October 2013. The All Blacks won the trophy by beating the Boks 38-27. © Anton de Villiers / PHOTOSPORT
JOHANNESBURG, South Africa, 05 October 2013 : Kieran Read of the All Blacks celebrates the victory with his try during the Castle Lager Rugby Championship test match between SOUTH AFRICA and NEW ZEALAND at ELLIS PARK in Johannesburg, South Africa on 05 October 2013. The All Blacks won the trophy by beating the Boks 38-27.
© Anton de Villiers / PHOTOSPORT

The old enemies will be at it again and this time in the Rugby World Cup for the first time since 2003. In the last few years the All Black have got one over us and bar the penalty Pat Lambie struck to snatch a win. The Springboks have only tasted victory over New Zealand once in the last four years. Do we ride on the myth that as the All Blacks biggest rivals we can beat them and are the only side capable of giving them a headache? New Zealand have been in scintillating form and have managed to score countless tries in the last few games passing the fourty mark four times. Daniel carter has rediscovered his form, Ma’a Nonu has been on the rise and they managed to kick the poor french back to France.

What do the Boks need to do? I look at three of many areas the Springboks will need to be on their guard.

  1. Stop Julian Savea– The bus as he is known has failed to score against South Africa ever but the winger has just rediscovered his tormenting form and has been on a rampage. A natural try score who has 38 tries in 39 games (more than Lomu). He is the top try scorer in the World Cup and impressively, has done well both out wide, in the middle and when the All Black winger’s new tactic of doing pick and go’s. They have been able to use their wingers on the fringes which has seen opposition sucked in and you will see a loose forward or hooker having to deal with either one or scoring on the wing or a Savea using his power and explosiveness to not only just gain vital yards but score. It will be interesting to see if they will be out to use this tactic against the Springbok wingers that are among the biggest in the world. Will they test the Bok forwards as well? Springboks defense on the fringes has to be organized. On the attack the side has to be able to manipulate the space down the middle of the All Black ruck as the defending champions have a habit of stepping back from rucks.
  2. Dan Carter & Nehe Milner-Skudder brilliance– Dan was at his mercurial best this weekend and is clearly on an upward trajectory. The man was easily the general, kicking with aplomb and creating tries in such mesmerizing manner. Nehe Milner Skudder? Can you defend X-factor? It has been done before majority of the winger’s tries are pretty much a step out side and a dart inside(vs -Australia, France,Tonga & Namibia). It’s not as easy as that but the winger has a habitual action which was handled well by the Highlanders in the Super Rugby final. The Springboks will need to have their defensive game up to scratch and will need to have Duane Vermeulen and Bismarck du plessis in wrecking mode as they look to impose themselves physically. It will be important to note how Carter had two or three defenders around him, resulting in created space outside or back door pass in his last few games. South Africa’s 10-12-13 axis has a habit of being sucked in and will need to be shepherded well by a leader. A defensive leader must stand up this weekend.
  3. Kicking game – Probably the best kicking game in the land. NZ have been exceptional when it comes to kick and chase and the catch by Ben Smith last week brings back nightmares of Dan Biggar’s leap against Willie le Roux.The Bok’s high ball skills will need to be on their A-game but more importantly their overall kicking game has to improve or they will be punished. Handre Pollard’s 5/8 kicking was just enough and in any other knock out game would have been not good enough.New Zealand where at hand to score of a charge down through Brodie Retallick and unless Fourie du Preez (who was charged down recently) is protected or the rest of the kicking options practice perfection. They will be punished.

Variety will be the order of the day. South Africa can not afford a one-dimensional approach and will need to re-enact the performances of 2013 and 2015, but must also look to sustain this pressure. South Africa – New Zealand clashes have been decided by the superior fitness of the kiwis and their mental ability to dominate the second half and more importantly the last 20 minutes of a clash. In the two side’s last 20 clashes the All Blacks have outscored South Africa on 17 occasions in the last 20 minutes. The last time was 2009 when South Africa outscored NZ 6-3.

Will the men in green be able to produce a performance of the ages? In Jerome Garces, they have a bogey referee from France and the Springboks have tasted defeat a couple of times when they have officiated their games. The injury cloud over the likes of Lood, Bismarck du Plessis and Victor Matfield will have many worried particularly Lood de Jager. Meyer is believed to be contemplating throwing young Pieter-Steph du Toit in or Willem Alberts at lock should the locks fail to recover. Physical, accurate, smart and a controlled aggression approach can win this clash for South Africa.

Adding a bit of variation and surprising the All Blacks will assist in beating their biggest rivals. What they have shown over the last few weeks will not worry New Zealand. A brand new Springbok must play on Saturday and not the timid, average side that has shown character but scrapped through the World Cup.

Average score over the last 7 games has been 27-18 to the All Blacks. It promises to be a clash to remember or to forget.

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23 COMMENTS

  1. Pretty much sums up my feelings. Boks need to bring a game and also a bag of tricks not seen so far in this world cup.

  2. @Aldo: Well I hear they are contemplating using the running game in the first half and then try shelve it out in the second half.

    Whatever they do, it must work. All I ask.

  3. @Benedict Chanakira:

    I would do the other way round to be honest…
    Our gameplan is fine and good enough to beat any Team in the world when executed correctly at Pace. Bring the Kiwis under pressure and they will start making mistakes – scoreboard pressure, physical pressure etc. will work best against a Team used to things going their way.

  4. This brings back bad memories of 2011 where the Boks had all the stats in their favour but couldn’t score tries to put the game away against Aus, we all know how that ended.

    Ruling the possession stats etc, will count for nothing if we cannot accumulate points in this game, you just know the ABs will change gears at some stage in the second half and then we need to be well in front as this Bok team currently does not look capable of chasing a victory if they are more than two tries behind.

  5. @JT_BOKBEFOK!: old men, who are living and playing on their laurels can not go at full tempo for 80 mins. The AB’s are superior in skill, fitness and we edge them physically. 17/20 games we have been outscored in the final 1/4.

  6. @Craven: Numbers will help to some extent. We need some serious smart player actions and the ability to score points every time we hit the half way mark and forward.

  7. @JT_BOKBEFOK!: playing against the finest in the land. My point is that they cant play for 80 and need to step up. Will be keen to see how Beast, Fdp, Schalla, Habz & JP respond to the challenge.

  8. I heard somewhere that rain might be expected on Saturday. Is this true?

    If so the backline I would pick is: FdP, Steyn, Habana, De Allende, Serfontein, Pietersen, Kirchener.

    If we are not going run it, let’s keep them pinned back in their half and make them play in the rain.

  9. I have the Highlanders vs Hurricanes championship game on tape. This would be the week for the Boks to study it. IDK…going to be a tough one for SA and if they prevail, a bigger upset than the Boks being beaten by Japan.

  10. ABs have 2 weaknesses: scrums and 2 dangerous wings who are quite shaky under the high ball. Unfortunately scrums per se are not that important in games anymore (as Japan showed us) – efficient rucking and mauling are more important for the outcome. And for us to exploit weakness on wings, we need accurate kicking and chasing – 2 skillsets that we do not posess either!

  11. @Bekke: I agree. I suspect Boks will look to exploit either and Try use the Driving maul seriously.

    @Ollie: It will be different but any side can lose to anyone. Boks will need to put in a double shift to beat this AB side.

  12. Yes, I think the Boks will be win, if the Ballies are brought on in last 20.

    that means Malherbe at 3, lood or Psdt at 5 and alverts at blinsside. They need to go fill tilt at collisions at pace. If get quick ball attack.

    In the last 20 bring on Ou ballie experience to close out. Easy.

  13. BC, agree with you on the need for variety and the need to drop the 1-dimensional approach that saw the Boks exit RWC2011. The last time these 2 sides met at a World Cup was back in 2003 with only Mealamu, McCaw and Schalk and Matfield surviving so not relevant to go back to that game won 29-9 by the AB’s. The opinion in NZ is that Bok play is usually predictable with attempts to slow the game down in broken play, lots of kick and chases and the inevitable rolling maul set up from lineouts in the redzone so all of this will have been covered in AB workouts. It would be nice to see the Boks play like the Argentinians did and set up a lead before halftime but can they? They have the men in D’Allende and Kriel to break the gainline but then Pollard has to be given front foot ball and FdP needs to spend less time waving his arms and get the ball moving faster. Don’t agree with comments above that the AB wings are weak under the highball – the team hasn’t even been chosen yet so who are we talking about? NMS, Savea, Naholo, Ben Smith? They are all able to take highballs. As for scrums being a weakpoint, the stats don’t stack up to support that either.

    It is going to be a good game but the Boks will this time have to rehearse a plan B and C and bring in to Twickenham.

  14. @cab: Yes Cab, but one of the reasons put forward for the Boks losing their home game on the Highveld this year was along with the performance of Lima Sopoaga, the superiority of the AB’s bench. You have to have guys with the skillset to dominate in the final 20 mins – experience on its own is not enough surely?

  15. @out wide:
    The ABs skills are pretty specal but we’ve got a stronger pack and some v exciting backline players with serious skills of their own.

    The boks were pretty unlucky in their 3n games v NZ this year and I’m quite confident that if the right players are picked, having now got some experience and conditioning they can and will beat this AB team.

    The ABs let the ball do the work, which is why they wear out the other teams, but they can definitely be beaten Upfront. The bus won’t be work out provided the younger players ars picked l. The adrenaline of a semifinal with all to gain and nothing to lose (after Japan) makes this a v dangerous bok side.

    I think an upset is on the cards here but wait fir team selection.

  16. @Jacques (Bunny): You’re right – if the AB’s werent weren’t so fit they wouldn’t be able to dominate the opposition in those second half bursts. However other factors such as the quality of the bench and sometimes ability to hone in on and exploit opposition errors. The game they won 41-13 over Australia was won in the second half (by 28-7) because the Wallabies began to kick possession away and slip off tackles.

    Boks beware!! the 2 games played between the AB’s and Wallabies in Sydney and Auckland this year. The AB’s lost by 8 points in Sydney only to come back the next week and retain the Bledisloe cup by smashing the same Aussie team by 28 points in Auckland. There, the score at half-time score was 13-6 but the AB’s stepped up a gear in the 2nd half and aided by the Aussies kicking possession away into waiting All Black

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