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Five things the Springboks need to fix before blockbuster World Cup final against the All Blacks

Pieter-Steph du Toit tries to get out of a tackle

The Springbok have some work to do before they take on the All Blacks. Photo: EPA

Published Oct 25, 2023


Although the Springboks won both their play-off games by one point to make it to the Rugby World Cup final, they will be wary of a few aspects of their game where they need to sharpen up to avoid letting the All Blacks get the upper hand in their match on Saturday.

Leighton Koopman looks at five areas of their game that prevented the Boks from putting England and France to the sword and what needs to be fixed to halt New Zealand in Paris (kick-off 9 pm).

Tackling onslaught

The Boks missed 14 tackles out of 107 and although that is definitely not a shabby statistic of 88% tackle completion, their usual dominant tackles were not up to the standard they set for themselves.

Against the All Blacks, those massive hits and double tackles will be of utmost importance, especially if the weather is going to mean a tighter clash than usual.

Having a completion rate of anywhere above 90% against the threetime World Cup winners will help the Boks on their quest to retain their title and win it for the fourth time.

Better box-kicking

England fullback Freddie Steward had a field day with the Springbok box kicks while under no pressure. There was the one crucial drop by him and it swung the game.

So if South Africa wants to put pressure on the back three of the Kiwis with the boot they need to put pressure on them and if they do there will be an opportunity to score points.

But if they don’t, guys like Beauden Barrett and Will Jordan will have a very easy time fielding those kicks, like Steward did, and it will render the one of the Boks’ weapons useless.

Avoid another slow start

Saturday was the second game in a row where the Springboks did not start well and allowed their opposition to put pressure on them and dictate play.

Yes, the South Africans do have the capacity and players to keep in touch with fast-starting sides but the All Blacks are a different kettle of fish.

They must be put under pressure from the first whistle and should South Africa get this right, they can enjoy a fast start themselves.

Sharpen up on kick-off

This is one of the main contesting points for New Zealand - putting in a strong chase with their wingers and loose forwards to put pressure on teams receiving kick-offs.

A couple of kick-offs went awry against the English at critical times and put the defending champions on the back foot but luckily, England did not really threaten when they got those good field positions.

But the All Blacks are a different breed when it comes to capitalising on mistakes after the restart.

The Springbok receivers will have to be secure.

Get the rolling maul rolling

Yes, the Springboks varied their line-out play brilliantly and that is one area where they tried to take the English on with different options.

But when it came to setting up

the rolling maul, especially in the opening stanza, England’s lineout disruptors had a field day in stalling the normally potent Bok maul.

The likes of Scott Barrett and Brodie Retallick, together with captain Sam Cane and Ardie Savea will be studying just how the English managed to disrupt one of the Boks’ most dangerous plays.