Now’s the time to push in that dagger.
It went in last week, but it wasn’t deep enough. The Springboks did what they had to do, they won, and they dominated the All Blacks, but I thought they had the chance to really finish them off. They didn’t, but they get another chance at Ellis Park.
It was really good to see the Boks so in charge at Mbombela last Saturday; the forwards especially were dominant and they laid a wonderful platform for the total performance.
What I found quite interesting is that the New Zealanders knew what was coming their way – every team knows what the Boks are going to do – yet the All Blacks weren’t able to stop it. And I doubt they’ll be able to stop it this week either. That must be a major concern for the coaching team.
Ian Foster must have had some sleepless nights this week. Even though he said after last Saturday’s showing his side had improved from the third Test defeat against Ireland, I think he was buying time and space. The reality is there was nothing positive about the All Blacks showing in the first Test.
For today’s match at Ellis Park I see the Boks doing exactly the same as they did last week. But, we’ll see a different All Blacks game … they have no choice.
You can’t beat the Boks at their game and the All Blacks have always been a team to move the ball so I think they’ll try spread the ball a lot at Ellis Park. They’re a team that need momentum and front foot ball to prosper so their pack is going to have to come to the party. We’ll have to see about that though, because I can’t see them putting our pack under pressure … there are too many cracks in that side at the moment, and you can’t fill them in seven days.
It’s a pity Kurt-Lee Arendse misses out this week; I thought he was great in the first Test, bar that mistimed jump which cost him time on the sidelines. He had a real presence in the game, was strong in defence, and will play many more Tests for the Boks. Some players just have it, and Kurt-Lee is one of them.
I’m surprised by Joseph Dweba’s inclusion in the starting team; he’s a rookie at this level, but happy for him at the same time. What an opportunity and I wish him well. This is his big moment to show what he can offer at the highest level.
It’s also great to see Duane Vermeulen back. As good as Jasper Wiese has been, Vermeulen has the experience, the grunt, the physicality, the presence … and the All Blacks won’t like seeing him in the No 8 jersey. It’s a big boost for the Boks.
Finally, the All Blacks will feel Ellis Park and the rugby fans long before they get to the ground … that bus trip from Sandton to Doornfontein is something you can’t describe unless you’ve been there. It’s not very pleasant if you’re the team facing the home side.
I’m backing the Boks again, by 15.