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John Plumtree

Bok defence won’t stop All Blacks


Beauden Barrett against the Boks last year Beauden Barrett against the Boks last year

The Springboks don't have the defensive system required to shut down the All Blacks' attack, writes JOHN PLUMTREE.

The All Blacks haven't played well in patches during their last three Tests, against the Wallabies (in Sydney and Dunedin) and Argentina (in New Plymouth), and the opposition were able to capitalise on that. The problem for the Wallabies and Pumas is that they couldn't sustain their effort for a long period of time, which allowed the All Blacks to win those matches. 

It's all well and good to have a great 20-minute patch against the All Blacks, but to beat them, you need to have a great 60 or 70 minutes. You always know the All Blacks will come back at some stage of the match, and you have to be able to defend well enough when they do. When Beauden Barrett was yellow-carded against Argentina, the All Blacks shifted into another gear and played their best rugby of the game with 14 men. 

Argentina's defensive strategy was very efficient as they applied pressure on Barrett and Sonny Bill Williams, and their linespeed gave the All Blacks a bit less time in which to play. The Pumas forwards made good use of the pick and go to get behind the All Blacks pack and create momentum. But Argentina couldn't sustain that effort.

For the Springboks to beat the All Blacks in New Zealand they will have to produce more than a great 20 or 30-minute patch. They will have to play very, very well with and without the ball for a long period of time, and I'm not sure they are capable of that, to be honest. They're not good enough.

I read that Nick Mallett said the Bok defence is too passive and they sit back too much, and I agree with that. If you sit back against the All Blacks attack and allow them to play, they will find a way to break you down eventually. The problem with that defensive system is it allows the opposition to keep the ball for a long period of time.

The All Blacks will be ruthless if the Boks' numbers are down on defence. Against the All Blacks, you have to take a few risks defensively and rush them. But that's not the Boks' defensive system and they won't be able to change it in a short space of time. 

The Boks will defend without coming forward on Saturday, so the All Blacks will be wary of the choke tackle (it's the Boks' strength to choke the ball-carrier). New Zealand's game will be all about building pressure by holding onto the ball and creating a mismatch. 

The breakdown is going to be an interesting battle. Losing Jaco Kriel to injury is a big blow for the Boks, because the Du Preez twins, if they do start, are in the same mould as Siya Kolisi. The twins would have to work really hard around the field and it would be a big test for them, especially for Dan on his Test debut.

ALSO READ: Five steps to beating All Blacks

– Read Plumtree's print column every month in SA Rugby magazine

Photo: Anesh Debiky/AFP Photo

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