History looms large in Soweto

Fri, 05 Oct 2012 10:41
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The Springboks will be out to erase the scars of 2010 when they take on an All Black team chasing history in Soweto on Saturday.

The Springboks will be out to erase the scars of 2010 when they take on an All Black team chasing history in Soweto on Saturday.

There have been many dramatic moments in Test matches between the sides down the years, but few rival the last-minute try from Israel Dagg that silenced the 94 000 fans that had packed into Soccer City in Soweto for Bok captain John Smit's 100th Test in 2010.

That heartbreaking loss provides the backdrop this weekend as the Springboks attempt to become the first team to beat the All Blacks since they lifted the World Cup title last year, and all indications are that the teams could be as evenly matched as they were two years ago.

The previous encounter between the sides was a true battle of attrition in Dunedin last month, with the 21-11 scoreline not truly reflecting how close the match was as the Boks failed to take advantage of their strong position through some poor goal-kicking.

Up until the 60th minute the sides were deadlocked at 8-8 when replacement scrumhalf Aaron Smith scored a try to tip the match in the All Blacks' favour.

While the Boks held their own in that encounter, captain Jean de Villiers admitted they were not good enough to take the spoils in the enclosed Forsyth-Barr Stadium.

"We were beaten by a better team at the end of the day. They took their chances and they got the points on the board.

"There are aspects of that game that we can take some positives from but it is a totally different game on Saturday. It is a new 80 minutes and we have to start all over again."

De Villiers said that his side want to create better memories at the iconic Soweto stadium as they enter the next chapter of their historic rivalry with the All Blacks.

"One thing about rugby, and being a bit of a traditionalist as well, the match-ups that you get in those Tests and the history of South Africa-New Zealand games, if you go to '81 and what happened then, '95 and the World Cup final, it is always quite special.

"If you go back to the last time we played them at Soccer City it turned out not to be a great day for us," he said.

The skipper added that whilst both sides will be under immense pressure, the fact that the All Blacks are tantalisingly close to securing the record of 18 successive Test wins could make things even tougher for the visitors.

"The pressure is always on and every Test you play you want to win.

"New Zealand is chasing something quite big in that record and with that comes a bit of pressure. For us as a team we are still pretty much under pressure to perform and show that we are improving as a team," he said.

De Villiers expressed confidence that young flyhalf Johan Goosen will hold up well in what will be the toughest test of his short career up against master All Blacks playmaker Dan Carter.

"I don't think a lot bothers that guy (Goosen). He sort of just gets on with his job. I think the bigger the event the bigger the response will be from him," he said.

The experienced centre said that Goosen's heel injury which hampered him against the Wallabies last week is a thing of the past and backed the 20-year-old to play with more confidence on the big stage on Saturday.

"So it seems as if his heel has settled down a bit and that definitely will give him more confidence.

"He is a great player with a great head on his shoulders. We are going to need him to be at his best, and we are going to need the whole team to be at their best," he said.