The fact that Ireland, who defeated the All Blacks in June, has made more line-breaks than the Springboks this year may be more consoling given that the Boks have already defeated the Pumas five times in a row.
The South Africans have cut the line less often in the Rugby Championship than the Kiwis and the Wallabies, both of whom are renowned for tearing teams to pieces and scoring a tonne of tries, thus it indicates the Boks’ stated objective of developing their assault is succeeding.
Because, let’s face it, the Boks will need to keep the Kings Park scoreboard ticking for the full 80 minutes if they are to edge the All Blacks for the Rugby Championship title, their newly discovered ability to create attacks will give them the confidence they need for tomorrow’s big game against the Pumas.
Naturally, I believe that the Kiwis will defeat the Wallabies in Auckland by a significant margin and score the bonus point try in the process. I don’t think the Australians will be able to duplicate the (nearly) match-winning effort they put on last Thursday in front of a huge crowd in Melbourne at Eden Park, the All Blacks’ citadel.
The last time the Kiwis lost at Eden Park was in 1994, but other than that, the Kiwis have never lost there. Tomorrow (9 a.m. SA time), I anticipate this Wallabies squad will lose in the same manner as so many of their predecessors.
For the record, the Boks have successfully broken 42 lines this season, which is three less than Ireland and 11 more than Argentina, who have had some outstanding victories this season, including a 48-17 victory against Australia a few weeks ago.
They also defeated the All Blacks in Christchurch during this Rugby Championship, but they did it by controlling the breakdown rather than by attacking and scoring tries. It is not surprising that the Pumas have committed the most turnovers in the tournament (29), even if that number is just one more than the Boks, given that they harassed and beat the All Blacks off the ball nearly at will in that encounter (28).
It follows that the breakdown fight will be intense tomorrow, just as it was last week, when the fired-up Boks controlled the breakdown in the first half but lost it in the second half when the Pumas came roaring back. You don’t need to be a brain surgeon to figure this out.
Makazole Mapimpi told the reporters on Wednesday that “the breakdown fight is definitely the key to this game.”
“It’s imperative to attack with the ball on the front foot. Their backs are quite physical, much like their forwards, and we’ll need to strive to match that in the game, said Mapimpi. They will attempt to frighten us because they are a very difficult squad.
Mapimpi emphasised that “we need to make things personal and be at our best.” “Winning the tournament and seeing things come together after a hard season are incredibly significant to us as a club and to the supporters.
We have been on the road for a while and have played a few games away from home, so it’s nice to be home and have a chance to win the Rugby Championship, so we are really looking forward to this final.
Starting XV for the Springboks: Willie le Roux (15), Canan Moodie (14), Jesse Kriel (13), Damian de Allende (12), Frans Steyn, 10, Makazole Mapimpi, and Jaden Hendrikse (nine), Jasper Wiese (8), Pieter-Steph du Toit is ranked seventh, followed by Siya Kolisi (captain), Lood de Jager, Eben Etzebeth, Frans Malherbe, Malcolm Marx, and Steve Kitshoff.
Replacements: Kwagga Smith, Faf de Klerk, Vincent Koch, Franco Mostert, Ox Nche, Bongi Mbonambi, and Kurt-Lee Arendse