Rugby Championship

Boks wary of Folau, Beale threats

2017-09-27 10:30
Franco Smith (Gallo Images)

Bloemfontein - The Springboks are mindful of the threats posed by the Australian duo of Kurtley Beale and Israel Folau ahead of Saturday's Rugby Championship clash in Bloemfontein.

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Both players have been instrumental for the Wallabies in a tournament in which they have shown steady improvement throughout.

Having started with a 54-34 loss to the All Blacks at home, the Wallabies then ran the world champions close in week two to fall just short as they lost 35-29 in Dunedin.

A 23-23 draw against the Springboks in Perth followed before coach Michael Cheika's men registered their first win of the campaign when they cruised to a comfortable 45-20 win over Argentina in Canberra in week four.

Having been in a really bad place heading into the tournament, the Wallabies have begun to inspire some confidence in their supporters once more and they can take a significant step towards suggesting they are on the track with a rare win on the South African Highveld this weekend.

Springbok backline coach Franco Smith believes Saturday's clash between the sides will be "entertaining" and he is expecting both sides to prioritise possession and look to attack.

And, when it comes to playing running rugby, the Wallabies have two real threats in the form of Beale and Folau.

Beale, who hasn't always lived up to his full potential in a Wallabies jersey, has been a revelation at No 12 this tournament.

He has the ability to create attacking chances out of nothing and has emerged as a secondary playmaker to flyhalf Bernard Foley.

"They’ve got more than those two threats, but those guys are playing good rugby," Smith said of Beale and Folau.

"Kurtley is more of a creator and a playmaker so he is more a threat with putting people around him in space. We will have to limit his space.

“Folau is an extremely good player, especially in the air. He’s got some really good feet and we’ll have to limit his space and kick the ball away from him as often as we can."

That makes the tactical kicking of Elton Jantjies and Andries Coetzee crucial on Saturday, and the fact that the Boks have openly disclosed their intention to kick away from Folau shows how highly they rate the 28-year-old.

Smith is also expecting the Wallabies to test the Boks aerially, but he still thinks a running approach is what the visitors will seek first.

“They have gone back to their points of reference," Smith said.

"They are going to try and keep the ball and play as well because that’s the type of team they are."

Kick-off on Saturday is at 17:00.

Follow Sport24's @LloydBurnard for live updates from Bloemfontein...

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