Defeat could stall Bok momentum
22 Jun 2012
The third Test against England remains an important match for the Springboks in the context of a challenging 2012 season.
The Boks beat England in the first two Tests to win the series and what followed was a sense of accomplishment. In the build up to this final Test, however, the coaches and players have freely admitted that the game in Port Elizabeth is a massive one if you consider the bigger 2012 picture.
Heyneke Meyer has made no unforced changes for Saturday’s clash, which confirms that the Boks as a group are determined to maintain their 100% record in 2012 and simultaneously build towards the more demanding Rugby Championship. Captain Jean de Villiers said as much on Friday, revealing that there is at lot at stake.
‘England will be determined to end their tour and season on a high, but we don’t want to give them that feeling,’ De Villiers said. ‘There’s plenty to play for, there are some new guys in the squad this week and a number of players throughout that want to establish themselves before the Rugby Championship.
‘We haven’t actually started looking that far yet, but it’s a strange situation. We do have some momentum, but there is a sense that if we lose we will have to start from scratch.
‘It’s also great to be in a position to win three matches in a row. There were dark days in South African rugby where we struggled to win a game, so we won’t take this for granted. International rugby is tough and it won’t be easy but if we do manage to win, it is an achievement we will cherish.
‘Winning three times against the same opposition will also be a special moment. It will be great for the team and the management if we can do it. It could take us on to higher things.’
The Boks have managed to win the first two Tests despite their inconsistency. De Villiers said that while he was pleased with the results, he expects a more clinical performance at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium this Saturday.
‘We conceded three tries last week although it wasn’t really from defensive errors. We know it is not good enough. We can also improve at the set pieces.
‘There were moments in the second half last week where we could have scored more tries, and we were disappointed with our finishing. It’s something we have looked at as we might only get two or three chances this coming Saturday. We have to make every chance count.’
Wet weather is forecast and so both teams may be forced to play conservatively. It could be that the accuracy of the goal-kickers determines the result, although De Villiers said the Boks will still look to pressure the England defence through their combative ball-carrying forwards.
‘We have to be ready for anything this week, whatever the weather or England throw at us. The surface at the stadium is looking good and we believe we can play according to our game plan.
‘We will be trying to identify space like we did last week. But we will have to play to the conditions, and we will have to get the first phases going before we move the ball.’
By Jon Cardinelli, in Port Elizabeth