Rugby Championship

Protecting the ball key for Springboks

2017-10-06 20:04
Eben Etzebeth (Gallo)

Cape Town - One of the major problems to emerge from South Africa's 27-27 draw against Australia in Bloemfontein last weekend was their ball retention. 

Having made their intentions to attack clear from the very start of that match, the Boks were fearless as they were prepared to run from everywhere. 

While they were far too lateral at times, there were some exciting line breaks and moments where they had the Wallabies on the back foot. It was in these moments where they needed to show composure, but instead there was panic as high-risk passes and offloads never went to hand. 

Showing patience when on attack has been a key part of the preparations this week ahead of Saturday's date with the All Blacks at Newlands. 

Coach Allister Coetzee explained.

"The pleasing thing is that we’ve created those opportunities (against Australia)," Coetzee said.

"It is important for the players to note that the next action won’t necessarily lead to a try. The next action should be one of good decision-making and communication.

"That is what we have focused on … making sure that we hold onto it and then, one or two more phases after, the opportunity will still be there. We can’t be the cause of giving the ball away."

The All Blacks are a side known for their ability to hurt teams who turn the ball over through errors, with their counter-attack lethal. 

The Boks learnt that the hard way when they went down 57-0 in Albany three weekends ago.

"They are a top quality team and probably the world’s best in terms of continuity and cohesion. Their depth is fantastic," Coetzee said.

"The lessons that we’ve learnt in Albany will give me a great indication of where we are as a team and how much we have improved since then."

According to the coach, the loss in Albany is a thing of the past.  

"Certain players have played their first games against the All Blacks. What we’re looking for is a collective performance this week. The big thing is to make sure that we respect the ball this week," he said.

"If you create so many opportunities, you’ve got to get the reward for that. We’ve made a conscious effort at making sure that we hold onto it.

"It will have to go better, I’m sure of that."

Kick-off on Saturday is at 17:05.

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