Boks continue to build
Sport24 columnist Jaco Taute (File)
While the Springboks faced criticism for their performance this past weekend, credit must go to a brave Scottish side. Particularly in the first half, the visitors placed relentless pressure on their hosts.
The Scots offered intensity at the collisions and prospered by getting over the gain-line. In addition, they knew that if they slowed down the Boks’ ball at the breakdown, they would be able to set their defensive line.
While Scotland mounted a strong challenge, I do agree that they were really negative on the deck, evidenced by the high number of penalties they conceded. Alasdair Strokosch was the primary culprit.
In spite of these tactics, the Boks showed their experience in overcoming a highly-energised Scottish side comprising a number of debutants. A fitting example was during the second half when Jim Hamilton was sin-binned for striking Eben Etzebeth. My Stormers team-mate showed maturity in not retaliating and from that point, I felt the pendulum swung in the Boks’ favour.
The Boks began to dominate territory and possession and made good use of the driving maul, from which they were awarded a penalty try. Most crucially, the Boks began to dictate first phase, which in turn offered the backs good go-forward ball.
JJ Engelbrecht again impressed in the No 13 jersey and looked dangerous on attack - notching up another try in the infancy of his Bok career. While outside centre is a very technical position from a defensive point of view, the more he plays there, the more he will learn.
Another young player who stood tall against Scotland was debutant Siya Kolisi. The man of the match accolade was one, which Siya richly deserved. He is a great team ambassador and always gives his all to the cause.
From a technical perspective, his loose play is one of strongest attributes. He is an extremely mobile loose forward but at the same time he is able to dominate the collisions and put in the big hits - he possesses a strong all-round game.
To be successful against Samoa this Saturday, the Boks will have to fight fire with fire in terms of the physical stakes. The Samoans boast a team full of imposing physical specimens and they will relish the close contact.
The Samoans possess bruising ball-runners and swift backs and are therefore extremely dangerous from broken play. At times, they effectively play Sevens-style attacking rugby.
Their strategy is to distribute the ball to their big centres and wings in order to create gaps in the opposition defence and get over the gain-line.
While they are a fierce force in the loose, their primary weakness remains their play in the set phases. The Boks will be aware that if they perform the basics effectively and thereby deny the Samoans good go-forward ball, they can overcome the unpredictable islanders.
I’m anticipating a tough Test as the Samoans have been playing some good rugby of late and boast experience in their side. However, the Boks would have learnt some valuable lessons from the Scotland clash in Nelspruit.
Heyneke Meyer’s message to the team this week will be to keep working hard, but most importantly to start the game on a more convincing note. He will be stressing the importance of putting our opposition under pressure from the first minute in order to prevent them from building up a head of steam.
While Samoa will be in confident mood owing to back-to-back victories, the reality is that they’ve never beaten the Boks and I don’t see them doing so this Saturday. I’m tipping the Boks to win by between 10 and 15 points.
Jaco Taute earned his Springbok debut in 2012 and has played four Tests for his country. Follow him on Twitter @JacoTaute
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