Saffas fill up on Bok dreams

Devin Hermanus

The Springboks are on a high, the All Blacks want to set the record straight and the much-anticipated clash between these old rivals at Loftus Versfeld is expected to have South Africans linking arms for the singing of the national anthem, momentarily forgetting that they can barely afford to pay for petrol.

In a repeat of last year’s final leg of the Rugby Championship, New Zealand headed to South Africa with the title in the bag. But, unlike their laid-back build up to the dead-rubber Test in Cape Town in 2017, the All Blacks have this week spoken about “righting a wrong” against the Boks, who have earned renewed respect under Bok coach Rassie Erasmus.

New Zealand went down 36-34 against South Africa in Wellington in September and it would deal another shock to the rugby world if the reigning champions fail to avenge that home loss on Saturday. There has been plenty of plaudits for the Boks’ brave defence at the Cake Tin but if All Blacks flyhalf Beauden Barrett had had his goal-kicking boots on, the result would have been different.

Steve Hansen’s selections for the Loftus rematch shows that New Zealand mean business. Captain Kieran Read, tighthead prop Owen Franks and scrumhalf Aaron Smith return to the starting XV with the mercurial Sonny Bill Williams, while breakout star Shannon Frizell retains his spot at blindside flank. Richie Mo’unga earns a place on the bench after his cameo in last Saturday’s 35-17 win in Argentina.

Bok boss Erasmus has backed long-in-the-tooth fetcher Francois Louw at No 8, as well as right wing Cheslin Kolbe up against the physically superior, Kiwi try-machine Rieko Ioane. Red-hot loosehead prop Steven Kitshoff will start ahead of veteran Tendai Mtawarira, while tighthead Vincent Koch plays off the wood in his first opportunity in the green-and-gold jersey since 2016.

Should the Boks lose, Rassie’s tactics, selections and a worrying lack of game-time for his back-up scrumhalves thus far in 2018 will come into question.

The All Blacks, who remain the bookies’ favourites, aren’t accustomed to losing. In 2016, Ireland dispatched New Zealand 40-29 in Chicago for their first-ever win over the men in black, ending the world champs’ record-breaking run of 18 Test wins.

In 2017, the British and Irish Lions pulled off a 24-21 thriller against the Kiwis at The Cake Tin, and a late Owen Farrell penalty snatched a 15-15 draw for the Lions in Auckland to end the series 1-1.

That same year, the Wallabies ended a seven-game losing streak against the All Blacks with a 23-18 victory in the third Bledisloe Cup clash – the Kiwis responded by winning their next nine Tests.

But a first Bok win against the Kiwis at home since 2014, and a second at Loftus in 38 years, would add to last Saturday’s triumph over Australia in PE. It will also set up Erasmus’ men for their end-of-year tour to Europe and possibly bump SA to third on the world rankings.

A rare double Kiwi scalping would breathe life into the SA-New Zealand rivalry, not to mention ignite the braai-and-pub banter for the two nations’ blockbuster opening encounter at the 2019 World Cup in Japan.

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Devin Hermanus works in the SA media industry, eats tomatoes but hates ketchup, favourite colour is blue, and listens to Eminem while doing yoga. Follow him on Twitter: @DevinMyles11

- Devin Hermanus

Let's chat

  • SweetAz

    There will be plenty of late tackles, head high tackles, neck rolls and off the ball stuff from the AB’s. In the return match against Ireland after they lost in Chicago there were 12 sitings,—-11 against the AB’s and one against the Irish. They will target Faf mercilessly as he has been the lynchpin for everything, so I hope this Bok team is prepared to fight fire with fire.
    I won’t be surprised to see a few yellows and a red card in this game, let’s just hope Agnes Gardener has left his Antipodean bias at home,—he was friggin putrid in the Argentina match and if he allows a free for all again tempers are sure to flare.

    Oh, and of course we will just hope and pray there is no “domkrag” (whatever the hell that means) or we will have to put up with Teutonic postulations and gasbagging about the Lions for the next 6 months.

    • Albert

      Hahaha. Well put. I most liked those final comment.

      • SweetAz

        Shit—AB’s win because of a clear forward pass try to Aaron Smith. I think the replacements cost us the game as the cohesion was clearly lost when they came on and SHEESHHHHH, NOT A SINGLE POINT IN THE MATCH SCORED BY A LIONS PLAYER.

        I really don’t know how games at this level can still be won by obvious fouls like that.

        • Dean

          I thought it was a clearly skew lineout? Even the crowd appealed it. I also thought a few phases earlier that Koch had won the turnover. He was on his feet over the ball for awhile. Then 2 players came to clean him out. Would be interesting to see how long he was over that ball. I thought it should have been blown as a turnover.

        • Herman Schroder?

          Too few Lions in the team actually, that’s why we lost. LOL. The haters will of course say it was Jantjies’ fault because we lost when he came on.for those final two minutes Yeah right. Cheers.

          • Herman Schroder?

            PS : Man of the Match Malcolm Marx !!!!! – – LIONS. Gotcha SweetAz. Cheers.

  • Mark

    Rassie lost his nerve and brought on all replacements….thought he had it in the bag. We will learn. I was more upset after our win vs Auz last week than I am about this loss to NZ. We won the game – just did’nt close it out in the final minute. So, other than the result – it was a “win” for me – and SA go to the World cup confident and NZ will go worrying. SA the underdogs….and NZ now have everything to lose. Love it. Anus Gardiner was ok, except for a few missed forward passes and skew line out throw-ins for the AB’s. But we (boks) are used to the ref bias against us, and should just suck it up and move on.

  • Herman Schroder?

    I am speechless about this one. So much was good yet so much was bad. I had the AB’s by 18 and they never got close to that yet we conceded 14 points in the last five minutes. Why was no one patrolling the touchline when Mu’anga took that last penalty. Where was Kolbe or Willemse ?

    To be fair to the Boks though they have improved markedly and one can only believe they can improve even further going forward. Let’s just hope that the mental gains of Wellington have not been eroded by the final quarter especially the final five minutes which was regrettably a repeat of so many encounters over the past 9 years.

    Pleasing for me was the willingness to keep the ball in hand and play positively and one can clearly see Swys De Bruin’s influence there. Some great skills shown at times yet so many unforced errors as well. How many times did we see line breaks with no support for the ball carrier.

    Pollard had a well balanced game overall but still at crucial times he prefers to go to ground instead of offloading to a support runner especially when the AB’s were firmly on the back foot. Willie Le Roux remains our biggest game breaker and his instinctive play is world class.

    But give credit where credit is due to Rassie and his charges, we are miles ahead of where we have been these woeful past 5 years. On the negative side we again didn’t win the RC with only 3 wins in 6 games and 10 points behind the AB’s on the log with a poor points differential of only 6 points in six matches. Rassie’s record now 5 wins from 10 tests ie 50% win ratio having lost to 5 different countries these past four months.

    The EOYT will be the acid test for the Boks with only seven tests remaining before we next meet the AB’s in the WC.No doubt the winner of the RC game between the two teams will be another hard fought encounter and reveal who will have the bragging rights before the crucial WC encounter. But things are looking up. Cheers.

    • Barry Smith

      Uhm, not so speechless, lol.

      • SweetAz

        Yep the man is afflicted with Logorrhea.

  • Barry Smith

    Gutted rather the euphoric!

    It was a test match in the bag, but handed to the opposition on a plate in the last few minutes, through poor selection!

    Erasmus need not justify the use of subs, this is normal and it usually adds impact to proceedings, but they need to be the right subs and not “boys with potential”. He argues they are inexperienced, well they need to get that experience at Currie Cup or SR level, not in national colours!

    There were better options. Nkosi on the bench instead of Willemse, with flexibility to move either Kolbe or Kriel to 15! Ross Cronje on as sub for 9. Koch should have been tested against Australia, not New Zealand, Wilco Louw or Thom Du Toit should have been on the bench.

    With better bench selection we would have been nursing a significant babalas and not consoling over a near miss! It is not the players that need to learn from this but rather the selectors!

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