'Pressure game' to break Boks' drought?

Wed, 14 Sep 2016 12:17
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BIG MATCH INTERVIEW: Springbok assistant coach Johann van Graan said the key word to beating the All Blacks is "pressure".

Van Graan said the South Africans are looking forward to the challenge to go head-to-head with the in-form New Zealand team in Christchurch on Saturday.

The Kiwis are on a 14-Test winning streak, going back to their 19-27    loss to Australia in a Rugby Championship match in Sydney in August last year.

"It's about which team will be able to apply the most pressure and which will be able to absorb it best," Van Graan said, adding: "That will ultimately be the difference.

"These matches are usually tight affairs over 80 minutes, so it's going to come down to who deals best with the pressure."

The last time the teams met, in the World Cup semifinal at Twickenham last year, the All Blacks edged the Boks 20-18.

South Africa's last win was also a two-point triumph, 27-25 at Ellis Park in 2014.

However, the Boks have not won in Christchurch since 1965 or in New Zealand since 2009.

And bookmakers also seem to suggest the margin will be well into double digits, with victory going to the All Blacks.

"In the last five years we have come up short on a few occasions," Van Graan said of a run that has seen the Boks score just two wins in the last 10 encounters.

"They're a team that remain calm under pressure," he said, adding: "We have to eliminate our mistakes and apply pressure on them.

"Their set-piece is always good, their No.9 [Aaron Smith] and No.10 [Beauden Barrett] are special.

"Barrett, in fact, is probably among the three form players in the world at this moment.

"The centres that have come in for Ma'a Nonu, Conrad Smith [who have both moved to Europe] and Sonny Bill Williams [who is injured] have easily slotted in and the back three are always solid.

"There are no apparent weaknesses; they really are a fantastic rugby team."

Van Graan said Test matches between South Africa and New Zealand are always a "pretty special".

"We believe we have a few strengths and we want to force that onto them.

"In Test matches, you have to be able to take the pressure and apply pressure."

@rugby365com

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