Boks now have 'finishing power'
Thu, 22 Aug 2013 08:39
I feel our backline has really improved
South Africa have moved on from the days of a dour team relying solely on forward power and a kicking game to overcome their adversaries.
While Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer was heavily criticised for the tactics employed in his debut year, 2012, his team has managed to score 25 tries in four matches this year - an average of more than six per game.
The Bok mentor feels the reason why the team has found the ability to finish the opportunities they create, something that lacked last year, is continuity in selection.
"The one thing we really want to improve this year is scoring tries," Meyer told a media briefing ahead of his team's Round Two Rugby Championship[ encounter with Argentina in Mendoza on Saturday.
"We have scored 25 in four games, which probably surprised some people," he said of his team's improved attacking form - which has seen them net five tries in a 44-10 win over Italy, three against Scotland (a 30-17 triumph), eight against Samoa (56-23) and nine against the Pumas last week in the record 73-13 triumph in Soweto.
"You can only do that [scoring tries] if you have continuity," Meyer told the media scrum.
"I feel our backline has really improved.
"Last year we were superb in the forwards, away as well, especially in Dunedin against the All Blacks.
"However, we lacked finishing power.
"Now we have improved there as well."
The Bok mentor admitted that in the Rugby Championship you don't get a lot of opportunities to run riot.
"Last Saturday [in Soweto] was a game where we finished a lot of those opportunities."
He said a lack of preparation time, given the number of overseas-based players now in the team, it is vital to have continuity in selection.
"That has been a frustrating aspect for me at the Boks, not a lot of [training] camps and not a lot of time to prepare," Meyer said.
"The reason why we played some decent rugby last Saturday, is because it is more or less the same team that played in all four games [this year].
"Willie [le Roux] and JJ [Engelbrecht] started their first games [in June] and suddenly they have four games and a lot more confidence," the Boks mentor explained, when asked about the improved backline form.
"We were really under pressure against England last year, with a lot of injuries and a lot of guys having moved on [either abroad or retired].
"By keeping the same team for four games now, by the fifth game it makes a huge difference - especially when you don't have a lot of time to prepare.
"You take confidence out of that and our backs have really played well this year."
He admitted that the first away game of the year will be a very different and much tougher challenge, because they now play in a different environment and a different field.
"There will be a very strong [and hostile] support base behind the home team," the Bok coach said, adding that winning remains his team's main priority.
"However, it will be great if we can play some good rugby as well.
"Hopefully we can keep that continuity going with the way we play."
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