Johannesburg - If the Springboks are to achieve their goal of winning with a bonus point and shutting out the All Blacks in their Rugby Championship showdown at Ellis Park on Saturday they will have to do what no team has done against Steve Hansen’s men this year: cross the whitewash four times.
In eight Tests this season, the All Blacks have conceded just seven tries and the most anyone has scored against them is two - by the Wallabies and the Boks.
In their other Tests they have let in just one five-pointer or none at all - on three occasions, against Argentina this last weekend and on two occasions against France in the June internationals.
At the same time, Hansen’s men have run in 28 tries. But, and this is why Heyneke Meyer and Co believe they have an excellent chance of actually doing what’s required this weekend, in four out of their eight Tests this year, the opposition have kept the All Blacks under the four-try mark - the Australians and Argentina did it, as did France, twice.
South Africa’s defensive record is as impressive as that of the All Blacks and they’ve also shown they can score tries, crossing the tryline on 35 occasions. That number is bigger than the All Blacks’ try-scoring record this year, but it needs to be remembered the Boks ran in nine tries against Argentina at FNB Stadium and eight against Samoa at Loftus.
What the Boks will then need this weekend is a fine balancing act between going for four tries, but at the same time ensuring the All Blacks don’t score four or get to within seven points of the Boks, should the home side win the game. That’s the scenario facing Meyer and his charges on Saturday.
“You either go for the win or you go out there to score four tries, I want to go for the four tries,” said Meyer on Monday. “The mindset has got to be right, but I’ve always believed that whatever the mind can conceive and believe, it can achieve.
“I have huge respect for the All Blacks and it won’t be easy, but we want to go out there and play positive rugby. If we don’t think we can do it and we don’t try to do it, then what’s the use of playing?”
Meyer, though, knows his team will need to be more disciplined than up to now and will need to get quick ruck ball to put the All Blacks under pressure. “I’m a believer and I’m very competitive and while it would be great to just beat them, I want to go for it. I know though that if the game opens up, they’ll get a few chances as well... and we’ve all seen how good the All Blacks are with turnover ball.
“But we can’t be in two mindsets about this. The key thing for us is going to be to stay within our structure, play constructive rugby and be clinical in our execution,” added Meyer.
It’s exactly this what the Boks will work on in the coming days; being clinical with ball-in-hand and taking the chances when they present themselves. The All Blacks picked up a crucial bonus point against Argentina last weekend for scoring four tries; the Boks failed in their effort against Australia.
“That’s the thing with the All Blacks, they take their chances, even if it’s in the last minute,” said Meyer of Hansen’s team grabbing the bonus point against Argentina with the last move of the game last weekend.
“We had our chances (against Australia) and didn’t execute well enough. We’re simply going to have to use our chances better if we’re to progress as a team,” said the Bok coach.