Kiwi scribe begs Boks to bring 'good', not 'ugly' side against All Blacks

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A renowned rugby scribe has called on the Springboks to produce their "good" style of play when they tackle the All Blacks in a Rugby Championship Test at Mbombela Stadium on Saturday.

In his regular Rugby Pass column, outspoken Kiwi rugby writer Ben Smith says the Springboks' good side is "great to watch" but their bad side is "ugly and disastrous for the global game".

As examples, he used last year's Rugby Championship encounters between the two nations in Australia.

New Zealand won 19-17 in Townsville before South Africa turned the tables with a 31-29 win in Gold Coast.

According to Smith, the Springboks' performance in the Townsville Test was nothing to write home about as they kicked possession away 38 times.

He wrote: "The first test against the All Blacks in Townsville last year was a new low for South African rugby, in terms of how the game is approached.

"Defensively they were strong, manhandling David Havili in the midfield, ripping apart the All Black maul, and monstering their ruck.

"But it was on the other side of the ball that was concerning. Never before in history has a South African team played like it, yet we were told at the time it was their DNA.

"There was next to zero desire to do anything with the ball with an unhealthy obsession of kicking to the sky. Even on the edge of the All Blacks’ 22, the scrumhalves were asked to launch box kicks."

Smith said the Bok forwards "deliberately slowed down play" and that it was "disgraceful" for the World Cup winners to play in such a way.

Smith insisted this was not the South African way of playing, noting that schoolboy sides in the country did not play this way.

"The elite schools are well coached and want to play with the ball, their top sides in the URC can be brilliant attacking teams and bring a natural South African-style to the way they do it."

Faf de Klerk
Springbok scrumhalf Faf de Klerk kicks the ball against the All Blacks. (Photo by Chris Hyde/Getty Images)

Smith said the Boks' game plan was far easier on the eye during the second Test.

"The 'good' side of the Springboks was on show in the second encounter on the Gold Coast, with a balanced kicking game (27 kicks) and an increase of nearly 50 percent in the number of passes as they moved the ball more.

"They wanted to play and take it to the All Blacks physically. As far as spectacles go, it was up there as one of the best games of the year."

Looking ahead to Saturday’s clash, Smith said he expected the Springboks to win by 10 points but begged Jacques Nienaber’s charges to not be "win-shy".

"Show us the good side, for rugby's sake."

Saturday's Test at Mbombela Stadium kicks off at 17:05.


South Africa

15 Damian Willemse, 14 Kurt-Lee Arendse, 13 Lukhanyo Am, 12 Damian de Allende, 11 Makazole Mapimpi, 10 Handre Pollard, 9 Faf de Klerk, 8 Jasper Wiese, 7 Pieter-Steph du Toit, 6 Siya Kolisi (captain), 5 Lood de Jager, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Frans Malherbe, 2 Malcolm Marx, 1 Trevor Nyakane

Substitutes: 16 Bongi Mbonambi, 17 Steven Kitshoff, 18 Vincent Koch, 19 Salmaan Moerat, 20 Franco Mostert, 21 Kwagga Smith, 22 Jaden Hendrikse, 23 Willie le Roux

New Zealand

15 Jordie Barrett, 14 Will Jordan, 13 Rieko Ioane, 12 David Havili, 11 Caleb Clarke, 10 Beauden Barrett, 9 Aaron Smith, 8 Ardie Savea, 7 Sam Cane (captain), 6 Akira Ioane, 5 Scott Barrett, 4 Sam Whitelock, 3 Angus Ta'avao, 2 Samisoni Taukei'aho, 1 George Bower

Substitutes: 16 Dane Coles, 17 Ethan de Groot, 18 Tyrel Lomax, 19 Tupou Vaa’i, 20 Shannon Frizell, 21 Finlay Christie, 22 Richie Mo’unga, 23 Quinn Tupaea

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