Jeremy Paul the ex-Aussie hooker made an interesting comment after the NZ/Canada game namely that on the evidence of the Canada game NZ would not be able to win the RWC.
Weepu was not convincing on 10 neither was Slade. The rest of the NZ game was, in my, appreciation pretty good. They lost some form in the second half -which is understandable considering the scoreboard at that stage- which is a concern because they’ll have less time and space against quality opposition.
Paul obviously has the NZ/Aus Brisbane game in mind where the Wallabies secured a win by cutting down the space of the NZ halfbacks.
Putting the NZ halfbacks under pressure and winning (or at least squaring) the breakdown battle is the only way to beat NZ. Both SA and Aussie can do that with the likes of Poccock and Brussow in the respective teams.
Cowan had an average game against Canada as did Weepu and Slade. Aussies problem is that I don’t think their set piece is strong enough while they also struggle with some injuries in the back line which is their main strike force.
The NZ back three is lethal independent who play but their effectiveness depend too a large extend on the halfbacks having front foot ball and space.
Paul has a point, I think. The way to beat NZ in this RWC would be (now even more than before) to put the NZ halfbacks under pressure.
Dominating or being competitive against NZ in the set piece would be key to accomplish that and there is one team that can do that (competing against NZ at set piece and putting their half backs under sufficient pressure) and that is SA.
SA will however need to sort out their ineffectiveness/problems in controlling the ball at the rucks.
The backline also need to take a serious look at running angles like the Samoans did when running with the ball. Off-loads –like against Fiji- before we go into contact is also key to beating the All Blacks.
SA’s tactical kicking and defence would be crucial but even more important would be our ability to hang onto the ball. If the Springboks can’t sort that (ability to hang on to the ball) we’ll not beat the AB because the box kicks will not work with the current NZ back three.
Forcing play into the corners and avoiding going to ground by using off-load as we hit contact as well as angled running in the backline is in my mind key to SA winning this RWC.
We have a sniff now with Carter injured but SA coaches have to take a serious look at how Samoa ran the ball at us (the angled runners with the outside players coming in against the traffic) and we need to work on our support coming from depth (as opposed being lateral) when we take the ball up so we can utilize off-loads at contact to create space and take Poccock and McCaw out of the game.
In summary; I think the injury to Carter made NZ more vulnerable but it will still require a special team and monstrous effort to beat this NZ team.