Preview: South Africa v Samoa
Thu, 20 Jun 2013 21:28
Like the Springboks the Samoans are not squealers
The winner of this match wins the quadrangular Castle Challenge and looked at closely there does not seem a foregone conclusion.
South Africa and Samoa have both beaten Italy and Scotland. There is not a lot of difference in the scores but in fact Samoa seemed to beat both with greater force and dominance.
Recent scores against these common opponents - Italy: South Africa won 44-10, Samoa 39-10; Scotland: South Africa won 30-17, Samoa 27-17.
South Africa's results were inflated in each case by a seven-pointer right at the end - when Bjorn Basson intercepted and when Jan Serfontein banged his way over. Take those away and the Samoan results actually look better.
It's still a match that one would expect the Springboks to win comfortably because their forwards will be expected to dominate the looser, less organised, less disciplined men from many parts is the rugby world with a natural preference for the unstructured game.
But will that happen? Recent evidence suggests that it will not.
The Samoans have a powerful front row; the Springboks do not. The Samoan scrum was better against Italy than were the Springboks who were penalised four times at scrums. When it came to line-outs, the Springboks were better, but not by much.
The truth is that South Africa's big men, all six of them, have been underperforming, perhaps simply match weary in another season when Super Rugby saps their energy and enthusiasm
When it comes to the tackle and what comes after it, the Samoans, broad of shoulder and filled with reckless zest - well, not as reckless as before they started playing in great clubs on great grounds. But they are hard men.
Tackling will be so important. The Samoans will put the shoulders in. The Springboks should choose to use their own shoulders above grabbing at opponents' shoulders.
The Samoans are not as speedy as the Springboks out wide but they know how to direct their running. Both sides can turn unconsidered trifle into exciting profit.
If the Springboks can set Willie le Roux, JJ Engelbrecht, Bryan Habana and Bjorn Basson running they certainly could set the game on fire and leave the Samoans gasping. For that to happen one would like much more spark from the No.8-No.9-No.10 axis.
The uncertainty about the fitness of Jean de Villiers could be upsetting.
Like the Springboks the Samoans are not squealers and will take confrontation. But one of the happiest memories of matches between the two was at the end of the World Cup match in Brisbane in 2003 when that two teams mixed up in a great circle as they knelt and said their prayers.
Players to Watch
For South Africa: Of course, you will watch cunning Willie le Roux who could just revel in a match such as this. You will watch Bryan Habana and admire his zest for the game.
For Samoa: Flyhalf Tusi Pisi may just be one of the most deceptive players in the world - deceptive in his footwork, deceptively fast and deceptively strong. He can break a defence apart. And you will keep an eye out for massive Alesana Tuilagi, so effective against Italy and so anonymous against Scotland. Perhaps he was resting from his labours. Samoa's No.8 Taiasina Tuifu'a gets through a pile of energetic, powerful work.
Head to Head: Experienced Paul Williams, son of the great Bryan, against rookie JJ Engelbrecht of great speed and enthusiasm. Then there is the contest between two different kinds of flyhalves - staid Morné Steyn and sparkling Tusi Pisi. Steyn has homeground advantage. The battle between the front rows is an interesting one and could be decisive - huge Census Johnston against iffish Tendai Mtawarira. And when big Census leaves, bigger James takes his brother's place. The hooking duel could be interesting in the scrum but more obviously about the field. Adriaan Strauss and Wayne Ole Avei both have high workrates about the field and both enjoy carrying the ball.
2011: South Africa won 13-5, Albany (World Cup pool match)
2007: South Africa won 59-7, Paris (World Cup pool match)
2007: South Africa won 35-8, Johannesburg
2003: South Africa won 60-10, Brisbane (World Cup pool match)
2002: South Africa won 60-18, Pretoria
1995: South Africa won 42-14, Johannesburg (World Cup quarterfinal)
1995: South Africa won 60-8, Johannesburg
Prediction: History suggests a Springbok victory but this is not confirmed by recent history. Mercifully, this will be a match, injuries aside, between the first-choice sides of each country. Normally one would expect a Springbok victory by a substantial margin but not after last Saturday in Nelspruit. If they repeat that performance, they will lose, which is unthinkable at Loftus. So we predict a close victory for the Springboks in an exciting match.
South Africa: 15 Willie le Roux, 14 Bryan Habana, 13 JJ Engelbrecht, 12 Jean de Villiers (captain)/Jan Serfontein, 11 Bjorn Basson, 10 Morné Steyn, 9 Ruan Pienaar, 8 Pierre Spies, 7 Willem Alberts/Siya Kolisi, 6 Francois Louw, 5 Flip van der Merwe, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Jannie du Plessis, 2 Adriaan Strauss, 1 Tendai Mtawarira.
Replacements: 16 Bismarck du Plessis, 17 Trevor Nyakane, 18 Coenie Oosthuizen, 19 Juandré Kruger, 20 Siya Kolisi/Marcell Coetzee, 21 Piet van Zyl, 22 Pat Lambie, 23 Jan Serfontein/Juan de Jongh.
Samoa: 15 James So'oialo, 14 Alapati Leiua, 13 Paul Williams (captain), 12 Johnny Leota, 11 Alesana Tuilagi, 10 Tusi Pisi, 9 Jeremy Su'a, 8 Taiasina Tuifu'a, 7 Jack Lam, 6 Ofisa Treviranus, 5 Daniel Leo, 4 Filo Paulo, 3 Census Johnston, 2 Ole Avei, 1 Sakaria Taulafo.
Replacements: 16 Ti'i Paulo, 17 Logovi'i Mulipola, 18 James Johnston, 19 Kane Thompson, 20 Junior Poluleuligaga, 21 Brando Va'aulu, 22 Seilala Mapusua, 23 Alafoti Fa'osiliva.
Date: Saturday, 22 June 2013
Venue: Loftus Versfeld, Pretoria
Kick-off: 17.15 (15.15 GMT, 04.15, Sunday, June 23 Samoa time)
Expected weather: Sunny with a high of 21°C, dropping to 5°C .
Referee: Pascal Gauzère (France)
Assistant referees: Nigel Hennessy (Wales), JP Doyle (England)
TMO: Deon van Blommestein (South Africa)
By Paul Dobson
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