Mzwandile Stick (Bok backline coach) during their training session at Ichinomiya field Nagoya on Tuesday. Photo: Steve Haag Sports / Hollywoodbets

DURBAN – There is nothing wrong with the Springboks’ game strategy and the difference between them and the All Blacks at the weekend was little more than lethal versus sloppy finishing.

That is the verdict from assistant coach Mzwandile Stick, who describes the All Blacks as “sharks sniffing for blood in the water” when it comes to attacking opportunities.

The Boks have come in for criticism for over-reliance on a kicking game, especially from scrum-half Faf de Klerk, but Stick says the Kiwis kicked more than the Boks in their 23-13 win.

“We are still positive about the way that we are playing,” the former Sevens star said. “The All Blacks had about 30 kicks in play, and we had about 24. That means both teams had similar plans, but the All Blacks capitalised on their opportunities.

“Their two tries came when they kicked their contestable kicks on us, and we couldn’t secure those balls. That is what the All Blacks are all about - they are like sharks in the sea. If they smell the blood, they will take it and punish you. That is something we must make sure that we work on.”

Stick points out that in the first 22 minutes the Boks were in control and should have had more returns than one penalty goal by Handré Pollard.

“The plan that we had gave us a lot of possession and territory in their half. We were guilty of not converting those opportunities into points. If you look at the All Blacks, they capitalised on the first opportunity they got and scored. We have to get better at that.

“I don’t think we need to change much. If your plan can create those opportunities, the only thing you need to work on is those final touches.”

One such opportunity that was squandered was a Cheslin Kolbe line-break that later had Kolbe himself waiting out wide for a pass from Willie le Roux, but it went to Kolbe’s boot laces, halting the momentum as the try line beckoned, and he was caught by the defence.

Lood de Jager during the Springboks' training session at Ichinomiya field in Nagoya yesterday. Photo: Steve Haag Sports / Hollywoodbets
Lood de Jager during the Springboks' training session at Ichinomiya field in Nagoya yesterday. Photo: Steve Haag Sports / Hollywoodbets

The Boks now have pool matches against Namibia (on Saturday) and then Italy and Canada to brush up before a probable quarter-final against Ireland.

“When we played Argentina away, we managed to convert our opportunities into five tries. When we played at home against Australia, the guys were sharp enough to convert those opportunities. So, when it comes to Namibia, we are not going to change much.

“When we look at how we want to play in this World Cup, it is all about us, and making sure we get better in our plan and how we execute our game.

“We have to be honest and say we are still in a good space. Yes, we were hurting after the All Blacks game, but once again, we closed that chapter yesterday, and are looking forward to the next challenge against Namibia.”

@MikeGreenaway67

 

The Mercury

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