How Boks can halt Black wave
How Boks can halt Black waveSHARE
The All Blacks may be unbeaten this year and on a 15-match winning streak, but the Springboks have a plan to halt the wave in Soweto on Saturday.
South Africa host New Zealand in the final round of the inaugural Rugby Championship at the iconic Soccer City, venue for the 2010 Soccer World Cup Final.
The stadium hosted a Bok versus All Black Test once before – when the Kiwis scored an amazing come-from-behind 29-22 win in John Smit's 100th Test.
It is expected that more than 80,000 spectators will turn up to watch the world two top-ranked teams and arch rivals go head-to-head.
The Kiwis will be the bookies' favourites, given their impressive run this year – having kept both Ireland (60-0) and Australia (22-0) scoreless in 2012 and are coming of a 54-15 hammering of Argentina last week.
In stark contrast the Boks, under new coach Heyneke Meyer, have won just four from eight and despite last week's 31-8 demolition of the hapless Wallabies have been anything but convincing.
However, Meyer is adamant his team has the firepower to upstage a team chasing a world record 18 consecutive wins.
"If you don't think you can beat them, you will never beat them," Meyer said.
"You have to have the mindset of believing that you can beat them.
"We have only been together for eight Test matches, so there is plenty we still have to learn."
The Boks had a chance of an upset in Dunedin three weeks ago, when they held the lead – only for a hard-charging All Black team to claim a 21-11 win.
Meyer even found positives in that defeat, which he feels will help his side in Soweto.
"Since Dunedin, even before that match, there has been a belief that we can beat the All Blacks," the Bok mentor said, adding: You could see when we played Australia [last week], there is more freedom in the way the guys played.
"W are at home, we are at ease – there has been much less pressure on the players this week and they are much more relaxed.
"Also, for the first time it is an unchanged team.
"I do have a lot of respect for the All Blacks and I realise it will be very tough … you don't beat the All Blacks just by pitching up, even at home.
"However, we truly believe we can beat them."
Meyer also revealed some of the tactics he felt will be required to stop the All Black wave from sweeping through South Africa undefeated.
"We will need unbelievable defence, 80 percent kicking record, take every single opportunity and put them under pressure.
"If you give them space and momentum they will punish you.
"If you don't believe you can beat them there is no need to even go out on the field.
"If you go out with a defensive mindset against the All Blacks you will never beat them and we will not go out to just keep the score down.
"We want to go out there and make the country proud. We know Soccer City won't do it for us and the crowd won't do it for us – we have to pitch up there and be mentally strong and physical."
Meyer said continuity, something he hasn't had the luxury of till this week, has been the key to the World Cup-champion New Zealanders' success.
"They are a quality side and they are on a winning streak," he said, adding: "The great thing about them is that they have been together for some time now, they are the World Cup champions and they know how to win … even when they play badly."
He said the All Blacks' style might also suit the Boks on the Highveldt.
"We like guys who throw the ball around against us, play attacking rugby, as it also gives us opportunities," the Bok coach said.
"I know it will be a quick game, they are a superb team. There should be plenty of tries, and it will suit us if they throw the ball around.
"We also want to move the ball around if there is space and opportunities … which I feel there will be.
"They know how to play on the Highveld and they know how to play away from home. They have often won away from home and that is what experience brings to a side … especially with a superb player like [Dan] Carter back. Carter is very composed and he is a big threat."
Meyer said they have learnt some harsh lessons from their loss to the All Blacks last month.
"We need to take our opportunities to close out [win] games when they present themselves.
"In Dunedin we had a chance to win and we didn't.
"In a sense they may have underestimated us, as we struggled in the first half of the competition. They won't fall into the same trap, they are too much of a quality team to repeat that mistake.
"They will certainly come at us all guns blazing and they have also struck a rich vein of form … especially with that win over Argentina."
Meyer said that while the Boks always look to score tries, they will not run willy-nilly.
"Obviously you want to score [plenty of] tries in every single game, but you are only as good as your opponents.
"We do have a number of youngsters, who will move the ball if it is on and there is plenty of pace in the backs as well.
"By saying that, the All Blacks have a great defensive game as well and this year already two teams have failed to score any points against them.
"They do make it difficult for you to move the ball … they force you into wide channels and the counter-ruck you.
"We want to play great rugby, score tries and if the opportunities are there we will exploit that. They do have a great defence and we will have to be smart about it … execute the gameplan well if you want to score tries against them."