The SA Rugby magazine team identify what they would love to see come out of the Boks’ World Cup must-win match against Italy on Friday.
Jon Cardinelli (chief writer) hopes that the Springboks come through the clash with Italy with a clean bill of health:
There were always going to be injury setbacks over the course of this campaign. The Boks have suffered two early blows, with prop Trevor Nyakane and centre Jesse Kriel departing the tournament.
The best available side will start against Italy in Shizuoka on Friday. After that, Rassie Erasmus will field a second-string team against Canada in Kobe due to the short turnaround of four days.
Erasmus will hope that his star players come through the clash with Italy relatively unscathed and his best personnel are available for the first round of the knockouts. The Boks can’t afford to lose players like Faf de Klerk and Handre Pollard ahead of the quarter-finals.
Craig Lewis (editor) wants officials to remain out of the spotlight:
As painful as it is to listen to the constant moans of Wallabies coach Michael Cheika, he did make a fair point in the wake of his side’s loss to Wales when he suggested that the officials were becoming overly cautious.
Indeed, there have been far too many stoppages where the TMO gets involved unnecessarily, often leading the on-field referee to second-guess himself.
As the competition heads towards a crucial stage of the pool phase, I can only hope that the referees silence all the criticism with some decisive, accurate officiating.
Dylan Jack (staff writer) hopes the Bok backline starts to fire:
I don’t think I’m overstepping the line by saying that the Springboks’ backline struggled in their only competitive match of the tournament so far against New Zealand. Faf de Klerk and Handre Pollard couldn’t control the game and execute accurately, meaning that players such as Lukhanyo Am and Makazole Mapimpi couldn’t find the space out wide they so desperately needed.
This was a similar issue in the big win over Namibia. It may have been due to the number of changes made, but the Springboks had to turn to their maul – which is always going to be dominant – far too often in the first half of that match.
With the Boks reverting to their regulars in a game they simply have to win, I hope that both De Klerk and Pollard, as well as those outside them, can return to a timely bit of form.
Mariette Adams (staff writer) wants Duane Vermeulen to win his one-on-one duel with Sergio Parisse:
A enticing showdown between two of the world’s premier No 8s are looming and I hope we get to see the best of what both of these players have to offer.
The inspirational Italy captain is a rare breed in the rugby fraternity, in the sense that he is revered by all. For all the Azzurri’s struggles, he remains at the forefront of everything that is good in that national team. With his power game, skills and rugby IQ to match, Parisse seldom loses a personal duel on the field.
But Vermeulen is also in top form and will be champing at the bit to lay into his opposite number. He is perhaps the Springboks’ most important player going into this specific must-win Test.
All things considered, it promises to be an epic duel between two heavyweights. Let’s hope the last man standing is the one in green.
John Goliath (senior contributor) hopes Boks gets rewarded for scrum dominance:
The Springboks should have won a lot more penalties in the scrum against the All Blacks. Frans Malherbe put Joe Moody under a lot of pressure, and the All Black loosehead’s elbow was on the ground quite a few times, without being punished.
But, in the next match against Namibia, the Boks were rewarded for their dominant scrum with penalties, which helped build momentum and create scoreboard pressure.
The scrum is going to be a key battle against Italy. The Boks are definitely going to attack that area of the game, as well as the lineouts after picking six forwards on the bench. If they do get dominance on Friday, they must be rewarded, which will make it a lot easier to see off the plucky Italians.
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