Boks need to focus on breakdown and defence, says Matfield

2010-07-23 00:00

WHILE Springbok coach Peter de Villiers is in denial after two Test thumpings in New Zealand, his players have at least faced up to reality as they go in search of victory in the Tri-Nations Tests against the Wallabies in Brisbane tomorrow.

De Villiers has continued to argue that the Boks’ loss in Wellington last weekend was because of the inconsistent refereeing. Many thousands of South African rugby supporters will have seen for themselves that the Boks lacked hunger — in contesting the breakdown and in making tackles — the technical nous and, above all, the pace to match the All Blacks.

De Villiers said he will not have a problem raising the morale of his troops for the Brisbane Test.

“I don’t think that will be difficult. After we analysed the match against the All Blacks, it was a mystery to me how we lost. We really played well,” he told surprised reporters.

Not for the first time reporters had to turn to the players for a dose of common sense and yesterday it was vice captain Victor Matfield who provided it.

Matfield said there had been many areas where the Boks had failed in New Zealand, with defence and the breakdown the chief concerns.

And you have only to glance at the statistics to confirm his view.

The Boks, in conceding four tries in Auckland and another four in Wellington, gave away bonus points for tries for the first time since 2002 as the All Blacks won quick ball from the breakdown and attacked at pace.

“We need to do everything better, but the two areas we have to focus on are the breakdown and our defence,” Matfield said.

“You beat the All Blacks by keeping them under pressure. Once you give them momentum from the breakdown, they are very difficult to stop.”

Matfield conceded that the referee’s interpretaion of the breakdown was important.

“It’s very important to adapt to the referee because there are always little things on the day that are different. Both teams play under the same laws and it’s about who adapts quickest.”

Matfield also defended the Boks’ tactical approach, one based on structure and kicking for territory, and said that the Stormers and the Bulls had been successful in the Super 14 using that recipe.

“It’s still about field position and putting the other team under pressure and we just haven’t been doing that right.

“We need to get our confidence back and show that we can play this game,” Matfield said.

The tall lock also said that the Boks have no problem with discipline, ­despite the sin-binning of Bakkies Botha and Danie Rossouw in the two All Black Tests.

“I think the general discipline of the team has been good. We conceded only five or six penalties in the first Test and I think just nine in Auckland. There were just a couple of stupid things that were out of character that cost us,” Matfield said.

Meanwhile, Percy Montgomery, the Boks’ kicking coach, is advising the players to keep the ball in hand against the Wallabies, adding that the basics had been neglected in New Zealand.

“It’s little things here and there, but the end result is not good,” Montgomery told reporters.

“I want us to kick less against the Wallabies and carry the ball more. The kicks will also have to be a lot better than has been the case up to now,” says Montgomery.

“The second week was much better. We pointed it out to the players after the Test in Auckland, and the statistics from the second Test shows how much better we were.”

Montgomery said there also has to be an improvement in chasing the kicks.

“The chase of the kick is just as important and that is another area in which I expect a major improvement. It cannot be measured by statistics. It’s an attitude and I’m happy that we are improving. We could get away with it against Italy, but not against the All Blacks. We have to go back to the basics.”

The former Bok fullback said that defence remains critical and the Boks are not making “the big tackles” that were once part of their game.

He is convinced that the Boks have the necessary talent at fullback.

“We have someone like Frans Steyn playing in France and he can still return for the World Cup. We also have Zane Kirchner and Gio Aplon.”

Tomorrow’s Test kicks off at 12 noon (SA time).

Peter de Villiers: It’s a conspiracy, page 24.

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions. publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.