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5 keys to Boks beating Scotland

2015-10-02 14:00
Tendai Mtawarira and Jannie du Plessis (Gallo Images)

Cape Town - Sport24’s Herman Mostert highlights five key areas the Springboks need to excel in if they are to get the better of Scotland in Newcastle on Saturday.

Kick-off at St James’ Park is at 17:45 (SA time).

1. Scrums

The Springbok scrum was under pressure last week against Samoa, with tighthead Jannie du Plessis, in particular, struggling to assert his authority. Things improved when Frans Malherbe replaced him in the 54th minute and the latter is perhaps unlucky not to start this week.

Du Plessis will have to be on top of his game against Gordon Reid, while loosehead Tendai Mtawarira will also be tested against South African-born WP Nel.

Nel gave ‘The Beast’ a lot of problems during his days at the Cheetahs and the Bok prop will have his work cut out on Saturday.

2. Accurate kicking

Flyhalf Handre Pollard’s goal-kicking was not as good as it should have been against Samoa. He won’t get as many shots at goal against Scotland and it will be important to build a lead and take all points on offer.

Pollard’s tactical kicking has improved and he needs to build on that this weekend.

Captain Fourie du Preez’s superb tactical play takes pressure off his flyhalf and the Boks will need more of the same on Saturday.

3. Negating SA-influence in Scotland team

Apart from Nel, flank Josh Strauss is the other South African-born player in the Scotland starting team.

Not only are these two very good players who the Boks need to be wary of, but they also understand Afrikaans - which could have a bit of an influence when the Boks call their lineout moves.

Lineouts will be crucial and without Victor Matfield there, it will be an area the Scots will target.

Lood de Jager has been outstanding as a ball carrier and defender in this tournament, but he will have to stamp his authority on the lineouts alongside fellow lock partner Eben Etzebeth.

4. Don’t underestimate Scotland!

The Springboks made the mistake of not taking Japan seriously enough in their first game and it backfired badly.

Scotland coach Vern Cotter announced a "strange" line-up for the clash against the Boks, with many pundits considering it an under-strength side.

Some Scottish journalists have suggested that Cotter picked his team with one eye on Samoa next week.

There are 12 changes to the team that beat USA 39-16 last weekend, including a positional switch involving Strauss.

Two players have been ruled out injured - lock Grant Gilchrist (out of the tournament with a groin injury) and flyhalf Finn Russell sidelined with a sore ankle.

But the rest of the changes made by Cotter appear to be to give the players adequate rest.

He was furious when some scribes suggested that it was not the best team selected, but whatever the reasons, the Boks cannot afford to rest on their laurels, especially not after the embarrassment suffered against Japan.

5. Senior Boks must rally behind new skipper

New captain Du Preez is not your stereotypical Springbok captain. He is introverted and softly spoken, but there's no doubt that he has a sound rugby brain, with coach Heyneke Meyer calling him a "rugby genius" earlier in the week.

Du Preez acknowledged that he will be a different Bok captain and he'll be looking to leave an impression on his team-mates by the way he goes about his business on the field of play.

“I’m not going to be a big motivational speaker, but hopefully I can lead the guys from the front and I’m sure they’ll follow me," he said.

With Matfield out injured, it will be important for fellow senior players like Schalk Burger, Duane Vermeulen, Bismarck du Plessis, Bryan Habana and JP Pietersen to help Du Preez in his task.

“I’m very happy that guys like Schalk and Duane are very good friends of mine. I’m sure they’ll back me so I can do it with them," said Du Preez.


South Africa

15 Willie le Roux, 14 JP Pietersen, 13 Jesse Kriel, 12 Damian de Allende, 11 Bryan Habana, 10 Handre Pollard, 9 Fourie du Preez (captain), 8 Duane Vermeulen, 7 Schalk Burger, 6 Francois Louw, 5 Lood de Jager, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Jannie du Plessis, 2 Bismarck du Plessis, 1 Tendai Mtawarira

Substitutes: 16 Adriaan Strauss, 17 Trevor Nyakane, 18 Frans Malherbe, 19 Pieter-Steph du Toit, 20 Willem Alberts, 21 Ruan Pienaar, 22 Pat Lambie, 23 Jan Serfontein


15 Stuart Hogg, 14 Tommy Seymour, 13 Richie Vernon, 12 Matt Scott, 11 Tim Visser, 10 Duncan Weir, 9 Greig Laidlaw (captain), 8 David Denton, 7 Blair Cowan, 6 Josh Strauss, 5 Jonny Gray, 4 Richie Gray, 3 WP Nel, 2 Fraser Brown, 1 Gordon Reid

Substitutes: 16 Ross Ford, 17 Alasdair Dickinson, 18 Jon Welsh, 19 Tim Swinson, 20 Ryan Wilson, 21 Sam Hidalgo-Clyne, 22 Peter Horne, 23 Sean Lamont

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