BLOEMFONTEIN – The Springboks wrap up their Rugby Championship campaign with a date with the All Blacks in Cape Town on Saturday afternoon.
Here rugby writer Jacques van der Westhuyzen highlights five areas the Boks must get right if they’re to put up a decent challenge against the competition winners at Newlands...
Find a tighthead prop
Sadly Ruan Dreyer has found the going at Test level tough. He’s started three Tests and battled in all of them; surprising considering he has been so good for the Lions in Super Rugby.
Whether it’s his fault or the opposition loosehead’s, the facts are Dreyer gives away too many penalties.
Sure, there’s no Julian Redelinghuys, Frans Malherbe and Coenie Oosthuizen, but maybe it’s time to give Wilco Louw a go on his home turf.
Get into position
The Boks did a lot of playing on Saturday against the Wallabies in Bloemfontein, with the ball moving swiftly down the backline on several occasions, and it looked impressive.
It was very lateral, however, and much of that playing was done behind the gain-line; something the Boks will not be able to do, and get away with, against the All Blacks.
They also ran from deep on numerous occasions, but against the All Blacks it’s best they do their playing in opposition territory.
Make those tackles
Allister Coetzee’s men were found wanting in Albany two weeks ago, missing several tackles that resulted in the New Zealanders winning 57-0.
Asked to step up in Bloemfontein the Boks did, this time missing only 12 tackles of the 94 they were asked to make.
However, the Wallabies still scored some soft tries, particularly when Israel Folau sliced through the midfield untouched to score, and later when Bernard Foley also broke the line to help set up Marika Koroibete for the first of his two tries.
The Boks will need an even bigger effort – again – this weekend.
Find the X-factor
There was some exciting stuff by the Boks in Bloem; their numerous carries and power charges, and Dillyn Leyds certainly added something extra out wide.
But the Boks still lacked in the X-factor department, as they’ve done all season.
There was not one Bok in the starting team who posed serious questions of the Wallabies and no one on the bench, too, came on and upped the tempo and brought zip to the performance. How the Boks could do with something “extra”.
Show no fear
How badly scarred are the Boks? What did that 57-0 hiding do to them?
It would have helped immensely had they beaten the Wallabies and kicked on with some tries after going 24-20 up after 49 minutes in Bloemfontein, but they let the Australians back into the contest and had to settle for a draw.
Has that left the Boks wondering about what-ifs and should-have-beens, and questioning their own abilities and potential?
If they are to have any chance on Saturday, they have to play without fear and just back themselves.