Springboks: Just a few tests left until the big one

2014-09-21 15:00

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The Springboks’ Rugby Championship clash against the Wallabies at Newlands, Cape Town, on Saturday is a must-win test – and then some.

The Boks must not only win, but must score four tries to earn a bonus point to keep pressure on the All Blacks and maintain any aspirations of winning the tournament the following week at Ellis Park.

The Wallabies will be in the same boat. Both teams currently trail the All Blacks by six points and need a bonus point, thus five points on the log, to move nearer to the frontrunners. They will then hope the Kiwis don’t win with a bonus point later that night against Argentina in Mendoza.

The Springboks and Wallabies are currently on 10 points each, with the All Blacks on 16; and if either of them can get to 15, they will have a chance to overtake the defending champions in the final round.

This is provided the New Zealanders fail to get the bonus point and only move to 20 points on the table in their late-night (South African time) game against Los Pumas.

If the All Blacks do get the full?house, it will be good night nurse as even though the second-placed team might still be able to draw level with a big performance in the final round, the points differential will be too great to overhaul.

The Boks will have to smash the Wallabies to eliminate them and hope the All Blacks arrive in Joburg only four points ahead – a virtual replay of the scenario ahead of last year’s memorable test at Ellis Park.

The Newlands game (kick-off 5.05pm) is thus shaping as an examination of the adaptability, attitude and attacking abilities of Heyneke Meyer and his team because to score the required four tries, the Boks will have to adopt a more adventurous approach.

But what will trouble Meyer is that when they went all-out for tries at Ellis Park last year and scored the four they needed, they left gaps that allowed the All Blacks to score five.

The test at Newlands could very well be a defining moment looking ahead to next year’s World Cup as it will be the first of the last 10 tests Meyer has at his disposal to meld a squad capable of lifting the Webb Ellis Cup for a third time.

Next year’s Super Rugby competition will be played without a break and will end on July 4.

There will be no “inbound” tour and the Rugby Championship will be played as a single round: Argentina at home, Australia away, New Zealand at home plus an additional test (not part of the Rugby Championship) in Argentina.

But it has been mooted that the 2015 Rugby Championship might not be contested until after the World Cup (in November), which would mean Meyer has just six tests left to shape his side.

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