Final surge to slay the beast from Oz

Spirngbok coach Allister Coetzer
Spirngbok coach Allister Coetzer
Scrumhalf Ross Cronje and flank Francois Louw are two main additions to the Springbok team to face Australia this weekend that could have a hugely positive influence on the outcome for the home team.

Cronje starts in place of the axed Francois Hougaard and Louw comes in for the injured Jaco Kriel, for what is expected to be a fierce breakdown battle with Aussie Michael Hooper.

While those two individuals will have the contrasting effects of raising the tempo on attack in Cronje’s case, and slowing the tempo on defence in Louw’s case, a better collective effort all round is needed.

The carcass of the 57-0 loss against the All Blacks in Albany has been picked clean and it’s clear that the setpiece and protection of possession will need to take a giant step up.

Australia have only managed one win on the highveld in 54 years and 10 in SA in 44 matches here.

Better Wallaby teams than the 2017 vintage have come to South Africa and left empty-handed, and it’s unlikely the current mob will have the Mandela Plate with them when they leave.

The Wallaby scrum and lineout is nowhere as dangerous as the All Blacks, but they have enough street smarts to get by if other areas of their game are working well.

If Hooper and number eight Sean McMahon can secure quick breakdown ball the Wallaby backs with Will Genia and Bernard Foley, in his 50th Test, can ask tough questions.

The Bok defence has to rediscover the intensity of earlier Rugby Championship clashes this season. If Foley is under pressure, he has a superb bail out in Kurtley Beale at inside centre, who can act as playmaker.

Australia coach Michael Cheika likes to utilise Beale as first receiver when they’re on the front foot, so it’s up to the Boks to ensure that they aren’t on the front foot, be it at setpiece or at the breakdown.

Weather forecasts also indicate rain during the match, which will demand more accuracy in the tactical kicking game. The Wallabies love to keep the ball in hand, but if it’s wet and slippery, they won’t be as lethal if they are well pinned back.

Despite coming off the worst defeat in Springbok history, coach Allister Coetzee is adamant that his side will not retreat into its shell. They will play positively and according to the weather conditions.

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