All or nothing for the Boks

2013-09-29 14:00

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History shows Ellis Park is a happy hunting ground for SA, but the All Blacks are on a roll.

For the first time in nine years, a Springbok-All Black test returns to Ellis Park.

In that time, a lot has changed in the rugby landscapes of both countries.

The last time the New Zealanders came to Ellis Park, current captain Jean de Villiers was playing on the wing with the then coach, Jake White, preferring the more experienced midfield combination of De Wet Barry and Marius Joubert.

On that day in 2004 the Springboks scored a 40-26 win.

That victory will always be remembered for Joubert’s hat-trick of tries, but that win was the first against the All Blacks since the 46-40 thriller at the same ground four years earlier.

History has shown that Ellis Park is a happy hunting ground for the Boks, with the English and the Australians succumbing to defeats last year and in 2008, respectively.

But not since 2009, when the Boks under Peter de Villiers scored a hat-trick of wins on their way to winning the Tri Nations, has an All Black clash been so heavily anticipated.

Since then, the All Blacks have improved to such an extent that they have not lost two consecutive tests to any nation.

In the intervening four years, they have only succumbed to four losses, to their major southern hemisphere rivals the Wallabies and the Springboks.

Whether they have had the rub of the green when it comes to officiating, there is still no denying that their skill, patience and adherence to the basics make them a difficult proposition.

The Boks’ recent record against New Zealand does not make for pretty reading, with only one win from eight attempts since 2010.

The Boks did show the potential for domination over the All Blacks in the ill-fated Eden Park test, at the breakdown and in the scrums and line-outs, where a concerted effort had the All Blacks in serious trouble before the infamous Bismarck du Plessis cardings.

It was the small things like missed tackles, ill-directed kicks and not securing the ball out of the air that ultimately decided the game, besides Romain Poite’s erroneous officiating.

Ellis Park may be intimidating, but as John Hart’s All Blacks showed in 1997 when they staged a strong rearguard effort to win 35-32, any terrain can be conquered if a team is disciplined and skilled.

Their two wins at FNB Stadium showed the All Blacks’ ability to deal with altitude and ferocious crowds.

The last team to beat the Boks at Ellis Park were the British and Irish Lions in 2009, but that game was a dead rubber.

Ellis Park is South Africa’s Eden Park, because the Boks seem to grow extra legs when they are in Doornfontein.

With the Rugby Championship at stake, they urgently need those legs.

A timeless clashSouth Africa vs New ZealandVenue: Ellis Park, JohannesburgTimes: 5pm SS1/SSHD, 6h45pm SABC 2

Interesting facts about Ellis Park

»?Hosted the first test after readmission in 1992 against the All Blacks, which the Springboks lost 27-24

»?New Zealand, France and the British and Irish Lions are the only teams to have beaten South Africa at Ellis Park

»?It is one of the few stadiums that has hosted both Rugby World Cup and Soccer World Cup matches, along with Loftus Versfeld and Free State Stadium

»?The Springboks have only lost three times to New Zealand at Ellis Park since 1928

»?The 46 points South Africa put past New Zealand in the 2000 test was the closest they came to putting 50 past the All Blacks

Did you know?

Since the first test between SA and New Zealand in 1921 the All Blacks have built up a big lead in terms of matches won.

The Springboks’ record against their keenest rivals reads: Played 86, Won 34, Lost 49, Drawn 3.

The All Blacks have scored 1?625 points to the Springboks’ 1?344, making for an average historic score of 19-16 to New Zealand.

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