Can Boks shake the monkey off their backs?

2012-09-22 20:15

As the last leg of the Rugby Championship returns to South Africa, Khanyiso Tshwaku looks at the Loftus Versfeld clash between the Springboks and the Wallabies on Saturday

Any shade of invincibility the Springboks thought they had on the highveld was blotted out two years ago as the All Blacks and the Wallabies took turns in taking wins in Soweto and Bloemfontein.

It was a momentous occasion for Robbie Deans’ Wallabies as they broke a 47-year duck on the highveld with a two-point win.

They had already removed a seven-year albatross in South Africa with a 12-point demolition of Peter de Villiers’ side in Durban, but a highveld heist was dearly craved and Kurtley Beale’s long-range penalty settled that score.

Heyneke Meyer’s lot, especially the backs, have plenty to answer for after their by-and-large squandering of the forwards’ hard-earned ball.

Too much has been expedited regarding the failed kick-and-chase tactic, which cost the Boks twice in Perth and Dunedin.

Expounding further on them using a running game would be sacrilege, as the past four games proved that Meyer is not willing to change.

The painful part is that when the Boks have orchestrated a concerted ball-in-hand attack, like they did in the second half of the first Test against England and the first half of the second Test against the selfsame opponents, they are nigh unstoppable.

As well as the Australian pack fronted up in Perth, the Boks forwards will rely on the fact that if they can boss an even stronger New Zealand pack, making mince meat of a Wallaby pack at home is not far off.

Rugby’s simple equation is that no side functions properly without clean ball, and without Will Genia and Quade Cooper, the Springboks have never been gifted as big an opportunity to cull the burgeoning Wallaby monkey that is currently piggybacking them.

Whether South Africa’s backline functions is something else, and with Meyer’s first Test at his beloved Loftus, parting with Morne Steyn is not something one should expect, especially with the amount of faith entrusted in the flagging flyhalf in the face of withering criticism.

Australia have been poor, but their close wins displayed a fighting mentality not normally associated with Wallaby sides of the past.

Poor defence and discipline aside, it is a mental, not physical, barrier that the Boks need to cross.

Seven losses in eight starts against the Wallabies does not make for pretty reading.

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