Perth - The Springboks may have beaten Argentina, but it was too close for comfort. They will need a much-improved performance to topple the Wallabies at the Patersons Stadium on Saturday, so we came up with five ways the Boks can be victorious.
1 Get scrum dominance
That might sound like a sick joke after what happened against Argentina. When last have you seen a Springbok scrum backpedal like they did against Argentina in Salta? It was downright embarrassing, and the Bok front row looked like rabbits in the headlights in the way they were mauled by Los Pumas.
At least they have put in the hard work in rectifying their problems for the Wallaby game. There were some harsh words spoken and real determination shown during Tuesday’s scrummaging session in Perth, and the return of Tendai Mtawarira at loosehead prop will hopefully shore up the left-hand side of the scrum.
Adriaan Strauss is also a big man and strong in the scrums, while Jannie du Plessis has no choice but to soldier on at tighthead. But the loose forwards can’t afford to pull out and push half-heartedly because they want to get to the Wallaby backs.
The Aussies are notorious for pulling out all kinds of tricks in the scrums, but the Boks must not allow them to do that. Keep the Wallaby loosies scrumming too, and that will also create space for the Bok backs and hamper the Aussies from supporting their game-breakers.
2 Contest Wallaby lineouts
It would be very surprising if the Wallabies decide to use the maul on Saturday. They would want to play a quick game and take lineout balls straight off the top to scrumhalf Bernard Foley, so that their dangerous backs can get the possession.
But Eben Etzebeth, the master Victor Matfield and No 8 Duane Vermeulen need to go up and contest every lineout and try to disrupt the Wallaby feed. Australia have a rookie hooker in James Hanson, who will be making his first Test start after two games off the bench. Make him quiver when he lines up to throw the ball into the lineout.
3 Stick to attacking gameplan
The Boks need to take the game to the Wallabies, and not the other way around. Jean de Villiers’s team can’t wait for the Aussies to make mistakes and play off those. And that means they need to hold on to possession when possible and keep pursuing the ball-in-hand game that saw them total the highest average of all teams for tries scored in Test rugby last year (3.9 per match).
Yes, conditions were tough against Argentina at Loftus, but they were ideal in Salta. Yet the Boks were hesitant in the first half and came under an Argentine onslaught instead of putting the heat on their opponents themselves. Only when they woke up in the second half and started lifting the tempo themselves and bringing greater physicality and accuracy to their game did they get back on top.
It’s about making the right decision of when to kick, not kicking because you are in a particular spot on the field. And a bit of unpredictability, like a quick tap penalty or cross-field kick wouldn’t go amiss. It’s not just Willie le Roux who must spark the attack.
4 Energy in defence
The selection of Adam Ashley-Cooper at right wing is a definite indicator that the Wallabies will look to add width to their attacking game, as he is able to break the line with his speed and anticipation.
Captain Michael Hooper is also a handful up the middle and around the fringes with ball-in-hand, along with Scott Fardy, and they will look to provide the momentum for Nick Phipps and Bernard Foley to attack the advantage line.
The Boks fell badly off some tackles against Argentina, especially around the ruck fringes, so the tight forwards need to put in big shifts.
Centres Jean de Villiers and Jan Serfontein will also face a huge test in trying to mark big Tevita Kuridrani, who will look to offload to Ashley-Cooper and Israel Folau in the tackle.
5 Play to the referee’s whistle
Referee Steve Walsh made some questionable decisions against the Boks at scrum-time in the last Argentina game, but that doesn’t change the fact that the South Africans were unable to change the outcome.
They need to take charge of their own destiny and sort out any problems themselves. If the Wallabies are scrumming inwards, find a way to neutralise that tactic.
If Saturday’s referee, Irishman George Clancy, doesn’t penalise the Wallabies, then the Boks need to speak to him on the field. At the breakdowns, Clancy is normally very decisive, as he doesn’t tolerate anyone using their hands or coming in from the side, which then allows for quick ball to emerge from the rucks.
But if he doesn’t blow up Hooper for going in off his feet, for instance, then the Boks need to play the referee and do the same.