Boks face tough task

2014-11-26 00:00

THE Springboks are not taking their final Test of the Northern Hemisphere tour lightly with Wales having a full-strength backline at their disposal.

Without the services of first-choice wings JP Pietersen and Bryan Habana, the Bok backline will have to step up to Wales’ massive centres Jamie Roberts and Gareth Davies and equally large wings Alex Cuthbert and George North.

The Bok wings are unavailable as the match falls outside of the IRB Test window and they are back with their respective ­overseas club.

The challenge is undoubtedly a tough one, but the Boks have remained solid on defence during the tour. Their close win over Italy was testament to their defensive prowess, according to defence coach John MacFarland.

“I think they played a little bit differently than they’ve done ­before, they tried to stretch us and they had good carriers on the outside like Sergio Parisse. I felt we dealt with it well and as the game went on, we became more physical and drove them back, so it was a pleasing ­defensive effort,” he said.

The Italians managed to keep the Boks honest and the Welsh will do the same with their big, powerful backs.

Looking back to their previous clashes against Wales, MacFarland said that his side will have to be disciplined on defence and emulate past performances.

“There are certainly some big runners coming down there like Roberts, Cuthbert and North, so it will be a test for us. But we’ve done well against it in the home series and last year. They do come hard at you on the advantage line,” MacFarland said.

With Pietersen and Habana out of the match, Cornal Hendricks and Lwazi Mvovo are set to start alongside fullback Willie le Roux. Kicking has proved vital up north and the Bok back three will have to be spot on with their positioning.

“I think they’ll certainly test our back three, obviously with Bryan and JP going. They do kick contestable, high kicks and North and Cuthbert chase well, and we know we’re in for a test there.”

None other than Sharks ­flyhalf Pat Lambie has come to the fore in the past few weeks. His tactical play in the last two Tests has shown a good understanding of the testing conditions in Europe.

“I do think it’s an adaptation but it’s an exciting one to make. Most of the players really enjoy coming up to the Northern Hemisphere and facing different challenges. You play against opponents you only really play one or two years, so we’ve really enjoyed the challenges,” Lambie said.

He also tested the line against the Italians, which seems to suit his natural running game.

“I think as a flyhalf, you have to be able to play the tactical game as well as take the line on, and it’s about knowing when the time is right to do both things.”

“It’s something that the coach is big on; he likes his flyhalf to take the ball to the line with front foot ball, so it’s definitely a focus point,” Lambie said.

Looking towards the Wales clash, the Sharks pivot is expecting his opposite number, Dan Biggar, to produce another good performance.

“I think he really got stuck in against New Zealand, he’s got a good kicking game and he was chasing a few high balls as well. So we’ll definitely have our hands full from a backline perspective on Saturday.”

The Boks are set to announce their team to face Wales today. Saturday’s Test kicks off at 4.30 pm.

As the game went on, we became more physical and drove them back, so it was a pleasing defensive effort.

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