One of the things that are starting to infuriate the absolute hell out of me it this attitude the kiwi’s have that they have developed a “new style” of playing and that South Africa are playing an outdated style.
Funny that this didn’t come-up during the S14. Instead, Graeme Henry was referring to the bulls as the most innovative rugby team on the planet and the team that is most actively evolving the game. He also referred to the Stormers as playing the “best” rugby in the S14. Now am I missing something here? Words like “best” and “evolving the game” as well as “innovative” does not sound like out of date or old style to me.
In the mean time nothing is mentioned in the kiwi media about the obvious cheating that has been going on at the break down. My feeling is that this is where South Africa’s greatest challenge lies for the upcoming test, namely how to counter the Kiwi’s pattern and ‘illegal tactics” at the breakdown.
I am quite keen to see how the Springbok team are going to approach this match and especially the breakdown. Heynecke Meyer has recently made the following suggestions on how the boks should approach the match.
Meyer said the most important thing was to accept that “you can never beat them at their own game”.
“You need to break their rhythm, play a stop-start game and force the set-pieces because the only place you can attack them is the set-pieces,” he said.
“If you kick out you need to sacrifice distance to make sure that you kick into the stands to stop their quick lineouts. “They can definitely be taken at the lineouts and we’re good enough to do that.”
Meyer said it was more difficult to put pressure on their scrum, because it is good, but “at least your defence is set”.
Having already mentioned line kicking, he said a huge part of the answer lay in kicking.
“When you kick off, you have to mix things up by kicking short and down the middle so that guys like Victor (Matfield) can contest the ball,” he explained.
“If you kick long, they keep it and are good enough to do that for 15 phases, and suddenly you’re under pressure on your own 22.”
Meyer cautioned that the kicking would have to be judicious:
“People think it’s easy to have a good kicking game – Fourie du Preez has worked for eight or nine years to have a kicking game like that. The All Blacks have also worked hard on their back-three’s reception of the high ball and they’re basically picking fullbacks there at the moment.”
Meyer said kicking along the ground could also be useful. “You need to turn them by kicking long grubbers to the corners because they can’t counter-attack from that. Also, if you kick behind them they can run out of steam because they won’t change the way they play.”
He said altitude could also play its part. “What you want is for them not to get early points so you don’t have to play catch up,” he said. “If you kick correctly, altitude can catch them out in the last 20 minutes.”
At the breakdown, Meyer said the Boks couldn’t afford to give them quick ball, so they would have to appoint an openside flanker to disrupt them.
Asked how the All Blacks’ new high tempo could be countered he said the easiest way was to have the ball: “We never had the ball in the first two Tests and under the new laws the team that has the ball is the team that controls the game. But in the last 20 minutes we must force the pace because they will tire at altitude.”
He made a few very valid points, I think.
Firstly, his point about breaking their rhythm is key. Once they start rolling and string phase after phase they are almost unstoppable. To break their rhythm we need to do four things:
Make first time tackles and
Make sure we force the attacker backwards in the tackle situation
Tackle in on the ball and try to dislodge the ball.
Each and every Springbok should be a fetcher namely have only one thing on his mind to disrupt their pattern or to take the ball away.
Secondly, his point that we can’t win them with their own game forms part of breaking the rhythm. They have prepared themselves for the box kick so the rolling kicks could be, as Meyer said, be very useful to keep them turning around and force them to take the ball over the sideline, providing us with lineout ball. Frans Steyn could have been very useful with this sort of tactic. We need to play our own game namely play to our strenghts. Slow the game down and control the ball in a way that won’t allow them to counter attack.
Lastly, his point about keeping the ball is valid especially towards the end of the first half, the first 10 minutes of the second half and the last 10 to 15 minutes of the game. Stegman played, I believe a very vital role at the bulls, in this regard. Getting his hands on the ball when the pods goes into contact to prevent the bulls from losing the ball. I don’t know who is going to fullfil that role with the boks but that is something that needs to be worked on.
Owen Franks and McCaw’s tactic of stealing the extra meter by storming past the point of contact and then standing in the way of the opposition is also something that needs to be dealt with. They need to be cleared out in no uncertain way and John Smit will have to show his assertiveness and “highly acclaimed” captaincy skills by making sure the referee take action.