Boks searching for strong finish

Heyneke Meyer has picked several veterans on the bench in the hope that the Springboks will finish the Wallabies in the latter stages of Saturday’s Test at Newlands. JON CARDINELLI reports.

The Boks lost 24-23 to the Wallabies in Perth, and 14-10 to the All Blacks in Wellington. While the first match was marred by poor officiating, the Boks were guilty of a couple of lapses in the 77th minute that led to the Wallabies snatching a late try. In the second game, they had an opportunity to score in the dying minutes, but couldn’t find a way through the All Blacks defence.

Meyer feels that the Boks have improved over the past few weeks, even though that improvement is not reflected by the results. The Bok coach admits that the team is desperate for a win at Newlands, and that they will need to show more composure in the closing stages in order to clinch the result.

‘I’ve gone with Bakkies Botha [81 caps], and Schalk Burger [71 caps] on the bench, because I want us to finish strongly,’ Meyer explained. ‘I believe it’s a good balance on the bench. You need those cool heads on the park during that period.’

Adriaan Strauss will start at hooker against the Wallabies this weekend, while Meyer confirmed that Bismarck du Plessis is likely to front the All Blacks in Johannesburg on 4 October. As far as the coming clash against the Wallabies is concerned, Du Plessis is another who will be expected to make a big impact from the bench.

Indeed, it was Du Plessis who so nearly won the game for the Boks in the match against the Wallabies in Perth. The replacement hooker made a steal at the breakdown in the dying minutes, when the Boks were under pressure on their own goalline. Had Morné Steyn cleared the ball to touch, the Boks would have won that game.

‘There are no excuses, we have to start winning these tight games,’ said Meyer. ‘We’re back at home now and we’re hoping that the conditions are dry this Saturday, as it will allow us to play a more attacking game. We’ve grown defensively over the past few weeks, and if we can set our maul, we will be hard to stop. But we know Australia are a good side, and that you need to play well for 80 minutes if you want to beat them.’

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Photo: Barry Aldworth/BackpagePix

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Jon Cardinelli