Expect nothing and you can’t be disappointed. That’s the attitude to take into Saturday’s Springbok clash with the All Blacks.
Predict the score correctly and you could win a year’s subscription to SA Rugby Magazine.
A week ago we searched the archives to find any hint of a trend or statistic to create the belief that the Boks could indeed beat the All Blacks. We focused on the fact that Graham Henry’s All Blacks had never won in South Africa. We claimed altitude advantage for the Boks and put a lot of faith in jet lag and fatigue for the All Blacks, most of whom had arrived in South Africa on the Monday.
And for 20 minutes the theory was spot on. To quote Henry, his All Blacks looked like they were walking on porridge in the opening quarter. Richie McCaw dropped two kick-offs and Dan Carter made three mistakes with his first three touches of the ball. Then they settled down and smashed the Boks, scoring 38 points to three in their most dominant fourty minutes of the season.
Two late tries gave the Boks a positive to take to the video room, but the ease with which Rico Gear scored the final try is the more accurate picture from the game.
The All Blacks, with the exception of Andrew Hore and Jimmy Cowan, have picked their strongest team for the first time this season against the Boks. In Wellington and Pretoria, the squad second stringers won by 18 and 19 points respectively. It is expected in New Zealand that the team picked for Saturday should win by 20 points.
Aaron Mauger, back after a two match absence because of injury, says the All Blacks could have got 60 points in Pretoria and has hinted that is what they will be aiming for this weekend. The talk all week in the Bok camp is of going for the Bok jugular. The visitors have made it clear they will play an expansive game and the Boks have responded by picking a backline equally capable of turning it on if they get enough possession.
It should be an entertaining and high scoring match, with both teams scoring tries. The All Blacks, though, will score the more tries and win the game and Jake White will be hoping history favours him at Ellis Park next weekend when the horror show (that has been this year’s Bok campaign) finally finishes.
In the big game of the weekend, Western Province host the Bulls at Newlands. The weather is spectacular in Cape Town this morning and Province have to win to maintain an interest in a top two Absa Currie Cup finish.
The bones are backing a Province win by 10 points.