Expect the Springboks to show some killer instinct when they host England in the third Test in Port Elizabeth this weekend.
With the series wrapped up – following their 36-27 win at Coca-Cola Park on Saturday, to go with their victory in Durban a week earlier – Heyneke Meyer will be keen to make it a 3-0 series triumph. But he knows a big challenge lies ahead – some of his players are out on their feet, others are injured and England will be doing everything in their power to avoid a whitewash.
“We want to win every single Test match and I never want to cheapen the national colours,” said Meyer when asked if he’d give his full squad a run in PE now that the series is in the bag.
“But with the injuries we’ve got and some of the guys looking a bit fatigued I’ll probably bring in some freshness.”
Lock Juandré Kruger (neck), Willem Alberts (knee) and Pat Lambie (ankle) left the field on Saturday and will be doubtful for this weekend’s match. Meyer said he would have to think hard about the make-up of his team for this weekend.
“We really don’t have a lot of time together as a team and with the Rugby Championship also still coming up I’d like to maintain some kind of continuity in the team. But, it’s a fine line, to get continuity when there are a few injured guys walking around. There’s no doubt some other guys will come in this week.”
The Boks will be very keen to end the series strongly after playing well in the second half in Durban and then dominating the visitors in the first 40 minutes last weekend. Putting it all together for the full 80 minutes will now be the aim for Meyer and his team.
“We really played some great rugby in the first half on Saturday ... it was good to watch and that’s where we want to go as a team. There were some glimpses of the type of rugby we can play and that made me very happy,” said Meyer.
Indeed, the Boks completely out-played England, with the forwards particularly destructive.
They scored three excellent first-half tries to lead comfortably at the break, but a stirring comeback by England in the second spell, to go with the Boks losing focus and intensity, nearly saw the visitors snatch the win. Only a late JP Pietersen try put the score beyond England’s reach.
“When our set-phases are working, as they were in the first half, we can be a very dangerous side,” said Meyer. “We didn’t get that dominance in the second half and we made unnecessary mistakes which let England back in the game.
“To be honest, their three tries were very soft (they came from a quick-tap penalty, a Bok over-throw at a line-out, and when key lock Kruger had just been replaced) ... but credit to them, they never gave up and executed well,” added Meyer.
The Bok boss said his players would have learned a lot from England pushing them so close. “We played ‘Super Rugby’ in the first half, but it’s a different game to Test rugby and it’s not so easy to keep it going for the full 80 minutes.
“Test rugby is about grinding out wins and that’s what we had to do at the end.
“The guys would have learned from this and it would have built character. I thought Jean (de Villiers) did an excellent job at the end to keep the guys focused ... I would rather have gone through this now than play a brilliant 80-minute game of ‘Super Rugby’ but not learn anything,” said Meyer. – The Star