Cape Town – The Springboks will have to be extra careful to
protect their possession when they attempt to earn the required full house of
five log points without reply in the Castle Rugby Championship Test against the
All Blacks in Johannesburg on Saturday.
GALLERY: 5 previous games between Boks, NZ at Ellis Park
So says Percy Montgomery, all-time record points scorer for
the Boks with 893 points and a World Cup and two-time Tri-Nations title winner
during his illustrious 102-cap career.
The former fullback, now 39, told Sport24 this week that he
felt South Africa would have to be accurate in the execution of any tactical
kicking against the world champions.
“We won’t be able to afford the risk of kicking any 50-50
balls, where possession could just transfer to them – the All Blacks are deadly
on turnover attack.”
At the same time, Montgomery says the Boks’ kicking game
will remain an important device in their quest to complete what he called “a
huge ask for the boys” in trying to not simply triumph but also do enough to
steal the title at Ellis Park.
“Our nine and 10 (Fourie du Preez and Morne Steyn) respectively
will be important in having their kicking on song; as much as possible we must
hold our possession.
“I also won’t have any problem if (Steyn) bangs over some
penalties in the early part of the match to keep the scoreboard ticking if we
can and so build pressure on the New Zealanders – it’s first about just
constructing a win, before you can think about (bonus point matters).”
But Montgomery, who will travel to the Highveld to be at the
sold-out stadium, also said captain Jean de Villiers would have to have his
wits about him for “the important decisions on the day”, because another Bok
strength was their lineout drive meaning that some kicks should be aimed for
“We have the players to play an attacking brand of rugby and
the pace out wide to make a go of (the challenge).”
Montgomery was wearing his beloved No 15 jersey the last
time the Boks played these foes at Ellis Park, in the 2004 Tri-Nations when
they won 40-26 and – perhaps in a good omen – achieved the five-nil outcome in
log points also required on Saturday.
The backdrop was not
dissimilar because the game also came after Bok defeat in the away clash that
year: they had been beaten 23-21 in Christchurch although out-scored the All
Blacks by three tries to one.
“We could have won away but a couple of key errors nailed
us,” he recalls. “The feeling afterwards, though, was ‘these guys can be taken’
“We were a relatively new squad wanting to start taking some
steps toward the next World Cup (which South Africa won in 2007), so winning
that Ellis Park game in the manner we did was the kind of statement we wanted.
“Any Test against the All Blacks is an absolutely immense
game; they are seldom anything but strong in all departments and are still the
team we most respect of all rugby countries.”
Montgomery ended that victorious 2004 Tri-Nations, under the
leadership of now-Sharks CEO John Smit, as leading tournament points scorer
with 45, seven ahead of a rookie Dan Carter (38).
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