The Springboks’ have another crack at the All Blacks this Saturday and with 57 – 0 still fresh in their (and our) minds the question remains; will it motivate us or will it intimidate us?
In recent times – perhaps as recently as Rugby World Cup 2015 – we would have spoken about the great rivalry between these two sides. We would have spoken proudly about the respect felt on both sides by these two great sporting nations and how it was always going to be close when we the Boks play the All Blacks at home.
But then 2016 and 2017 arrived.
And now – if we are really honest with ourselves – we’ll relinquish the notion that Springboks and the All Blacks are still one of the great sporting rivalries of the modern era.
I mean, can we honestly talk about them in the same breath as Real Madrid / Barcelona, Packers / Bears, England / Australia, Red Sox / Yankees?
Unfortunately, despite Allister Coetzee’s best efforts to sway us to the contrary – the Albany result of September 16th will be a factor.
But what kind of factor will it be? Will the Springboks go out there meekly and try and secure a narrower deficit (perhaps score a point) or will they use it as motivation to end this leg of the Springbok season on a high?
My feeling is that they will use it as motivation but they will have to shore up significantly in a couple of key areas if they hope to run the old foe close. .
Let’s look at a couple of those areas, shall we?
1. The collisions
It is well documented that the only way to best the All Blacks is to take them on physically. You need to match them in the confrontations that happen regularly in rugby – and in Albany – this is where we fell hopelessly short. This won’t be easy however as the All Blacks side is big and strong, and aside from our forwards, we are not.
2. Set pieces
In Albany, we were particularly poor in the line outs (a traditional Springbok strength) losing 5 of them. Line outs have always been a primary attacking weapon for the Springboks and, without a dependable one, quite frankly, we don’t stand a chance. At the same time, that day – we lost 50% of our scrums. Dreyer has battled to keep his side of the scrum up and this can’t happen on Saturday.
The All Blacks scored 8 tries that day. What more is there to say here?
The worst part of that day in Albany was the nil. We scored no points. While I don’t think the All Blacks allowed us to play much – until the subs came on – we didn’t look like close to scoring.
5. Goal kicking
You really can’t miss your shots at goal on the grand stage. Jantjies has been a tad iffy from the boot, and like in finals rugby, you can’t squander points against the All Blacks. Every 3 counts.
If I had to make a prediction – I’d say that while the Springbok group of 2017 has made some progress, and we still possess a solid pack of forwards – containing the All Blacks attack will require a level of defensive aptitude that this squad has not yet managed to produce. If the Springboks can match the All Blacks in the physicality stakes, we could hang in there, however, if the All Blacks are allowed to give the ball some air, it will be another dark day for South African rugby. At 5/1 underdogs, I’m afraid, I don’t have much confidence and we see the final score being a comfortable 35-10 win for the All Blacks. Odds and prediction brought to to you by the good folks here.
So there you have it. The Springboks only need to be better in just about every facet of the game on Saturday, so here’s hoping it’s been a good week at practice.
What do you think is going to happen Saturday? As always, we’d love to hear from you so hit us with a tweet @leftbacks or a comment below and let the debate begin!