Rugby Championship

Heyneke seeks dry Newlands

2013-09-23 17:00
Heyneke Meyer (Gallo)
Cape Town - The Springboks “want to attack” on Saturday and are holding thumbs for a dry surface in the Castle Rugby Championship Test against Australia at Newlands here.

So says Bok coach Heyneke Meyer, speaking at a media briefing on Monday ahead of a game South Africa are under big pressure to win - while also mindful of the possible need for a four-try bonus point - if the competition is to go to a likely decider against log-leaders the All Blacks at Ellis Park a week later.

“We’d prefer a dry field,” said Meyer, when the suggestion was made that the going may be heavy considering the Western Cape’s particularly wet late winter this year.

Long-range forecasts suggest only very light rain at times in the lead-up week, with Saturday expected to be partly cloudy and cool but minus moisture by the time kick-off comes along at 17:00.

“I am very pleased with our attacking game at the moment, and we would like to make our supporters proud regardless of the conditions against Australia,” Meyer said.

“We even scored two tries at Eden Park with only 14 players on the park.

“If it is wet, I will want our set-piece to be dominant - conditions like that wouldn’t be (the end of the world) as they would give us a hint of what is likely to come at the next World Cup in England.”

The coach said he would caution against his charges “looking ahead of this game” to the revenge opportunity against the All Blacks, considering controversial events in Auckland.

“We’ll have to be really focused as it’s a must-win game, and we still have an opportunity at the title.

“The Wallabies are still a quality side ... we can’t be preoccupied by thoughts of winning with a bonus point. If you do your basics properly the bonus point can take care of itself.”

While reluctant to revisit the Eden Park match in any depth, Meyer did say: “I’m not looking for false comfort here, but I’m proud of the way we hung in - most other teams might well have taken 50 points after going (a man down) and we actually came close to a bonus point there.”

Team doctor Craig Roberts said three squad members had 'niggles' - lock Flip van der Merwe, centre JJ Engelbrecht and loosehead prop Gurthro Steenkamp - although all are tipped to be in the mix if required.

Meyer said Van der Merwe’s glute (buttock) muscle strain was probably the most worrisome of the three, although it is possible the Boks will seek greater athleticism at No 5 anyway with Juandre Kruger’s stronger lineout skills an option – gifted Sharks youngster Pieter-Steph du Toit is also back in the broader Bok fold and produced an assertive Currie Cup showing against the Cheetahs in Durban on Saturday.

*History does little to suggest the Boks will have an easy ride to a bonus-point triumph against the presently fragile Wallabies: they have not managed four tries in any of six post-isolation matches against these foes at Newlands, despite winning five of them and only tripping up once (26-3) when they were freshly back in from the cold in 1992.

Here are all the Cape Town results since then, with Bok try tally in brackets:

1995 (World Cup): SA win 27-18 (2)

1999 (Tri-Nations): SA win 10-9 (1)

2003 (Tri-Nations): SA win 26-22 (2)

2007 (Tri-Nations): SA win 22-19 (1)

2009 (Tri-Nations): SA win 29-17 (1).

*Follow our chief writer on Twitter: @RobHouwing


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