Rugby Championship

Bok defence under spotlight against All Blacks

2017-10-07 09:51
Allister Coetzee and Brendan Venter (Gallo Images)

Cape Town - Springbok coach Allister Coetzee's defensive record against the All Blacks does not inspire much confidence ahead of Saturday's Rugby Championship clash between the sides at Newlands.

In three Tests against the world champions since Coetzee took over as coach in 2016, he has seen the Boks concede 23 tries.

The attacking stats are not much better - the Boks have scored just one try in that time - but if they are to stand any chance in Cape Town on Saturday they will have to be significantly better from a defensive point of view. 

Brendan Venter remains the defence coach for now - his future with the Boks is not clear beyond the end of this tournament - and there will surely be some questions directed his way if the Boks are on the receiving end of another hiding this time out. 

The last time the sides met, when the Boks were smashed 57-0 in Albany, Coetzee felt his side lacked a bit of intensity at the breakdown.

"At some stages we felt that we were soft on them in Albany and they got go-forward ball and it was quick ball, which killed us," he explained.

"You have to make sure that you somehow slow it down or turn it over at the breakdown. There has got to be a contest."

But while slowing ball down on the ground is one defensive tactic, the Boks must also ensure that they make their tackles and are clinical in their defensive execution. 

Perfecting a defensive system is something the coach says has been a big part of the Springboks this year.

"There is a system, but within the system you still have to make good decisions. If you don’t make good decisions, a great system won’t work," he said.

"Somewhere, you have to start building a system. If you use a rush defence and you get it right, then you think you have it right. But if you get it wrong, then you have to go back to the beginning.

"You have to understand the system first. You can't just go from level one to level 10."

Coetzee re-iterated that this Springbok side had not been together for long, choosing to ignore the woes of 2016 where the Boks lost eight of their 12 Tests.

"This work in progress has started three months and three weeks ago," he said.

"These are processes that we are following and I’m really happy with where we are. I can see the improvement since last year, at this time of the competition."

Coetzee stopped short of making any bold predictions ahead of Saturday, but his talk in the build-up to the match showed a bit more fight than his "fool's paradise" quotes following last weekend's 27-27 draw against the Wallabies.

"Whenever we prepare for Test match rugby, we prepare to win, not to upset anyone," he said.

"For us, it’s work in progress. We get another opportunity within the space of a month to play against the best in the world again … it’s great to have a crack at them again."

Kick-off on Saturday is at 17:05.


South Africa

15 Andries Coetzee, 14 Dillyn Leyds, 13 Jesse Kriel, 12 Jan Serfontein, 11 Courtnall Skosan, 10 Elton Jantjies, 9 Ross Cronje, 8 Francois Louw, 7 Pieter-Steph du Toit, 6, Siya Kolisi, 5 Lood de Jager, 4 Eben Etzebeth (captain), 3 Ruan Dreyer, 2 Malcolm Marx, 1 Steven Kitshoff

Substitutes: 16 Chiliboy Ralepelle, 17 Trevor Nyakane, 18 Wilco Louw, 19 Franco Mostert, 20 Jean-Luc du Preez, 21 Rudy Paige, 22 Handre Pollard, 23 Damian de Allende

New Zealand

15 Damian McKenzie, 14 Nehe Milner-Skudder, 13 Ryan Crotty, 12 Sonny Bill Williams, 11 Rieko Ioane, 10 Beauden Barrett, 9 Aaron Smith, 8 Kieran Read (captain), 7 Sam Cane, 6 Liam Squire, 5 Scott Barrett, 4 Sam Whitelock, 3 Nepo Laulala, 2 Dane Coles, 1 Kane Hames

Substitutes: 16 Codie Taylor, 17 Wyatt Crockett, 18 Ofa Tu'ungafasi, 19 Patrick Tuipulotu, 20 Matt Todd, 21 Tawera Kerr-Barlow, 22 Lima Sopoaga, 23 David Havili


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