Boks aim for attacking progress

Allister Coetzee wants the Springboks to display further progression with ball in hand when they come up against France in this Saturday's series-ending Test.

The Boks have proven to be far too strong for France in the opening two Tests, which have seen almost identical winning scores recorded (37-14 in Pretoria and 37-15 in Durban).

Last Saturday’s victory at Kings Park was particularly impressive, as the Boks comfortably overcame a strengthened French team, with the result based largely around a physical and committed defensive effort.

Although the Boks had only 34% of possession and territory, and had to make nearly triple the number of tackles compared to that of the French (178 to 63), their tackle-success percentage hovered at an excellent 88.

However, after having spent so much time on defence last Saturday, Coetzee mentioned at Thursday’s team announcement that this weekend's final Test would provide an ideal opportunity to offer more with ball in hand.

‘We have to keep showing progression,’ he said. ‘It was great to see the effort and intensity on defence last weekend, but now we want to make improvements with the ball in hand, and finish off a few more opportunities. It’s important to be accurate when it comes to converting turnover possession, but you don’t want to defend all the time, we also want to apply pressure on attack.’

The Boks’ attack may well be boosted by the presence of mercurial scrumhalf Francois Hougaard, who is sure to pose an additional threat around the fringes, while Jesse Kriel will offer a physical presence at outside centre.

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For the Boks, Saturday’s encounter also represents one final opportunity to refine certain aspects of their all-round game ahead of this season’s Rugby Championship, which is sure to present a far greater challenge.

‘We know we’re not perfect,’ Coetzee commented. ‘This game is about what you can control, but I’m happy with the preparation so far. We need to be mindful of other factors that could derail things, and to ensure that we play with intensity, especially being back on the highveld.

‘It would be great to finish strong, but we also know that the French will want to take some pride away from the tour, and they will be sure to come out all guns blazing. France will want to get back on the right track going forward, but we have our own goals and objectives.’

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Photo: Anne Laing/HM Images

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Craig Lewis