The SA Rugby magazine team identify what they would want to see come out of the final Test between the Springboks and British & Irish Lions on Saturday.
Craig Lewis (editor) hopes for a brutal but beautiful battle
Don’t pay any attention to those critics who have suggested the quality of rugby has been dour and forgettable during this series. For me, this has been Test match rugby at its brutal best. In a sense, it’s been like a chess match where each team has countered the move of the other with a subtle play of their own. There’s really been very little to choose between the sides in what has been an emotionally-charged series. The physicality and kicking battles have been fascinating, regardless of the fact it may not be aesthetically pleasing, and we now have 80 more minutes to look forward to. Keep the try-fests for another day. I’m here for the tactical battle and no-holds barred brutality of a real Test-match grind between two sides who refuse to be defeated.
Zelim Nel (deputy editor) is looking forward to a red-blooded contest decided by the players.
As referees go, Mathieu Raynal is among my favs. The Frenchman, in the matches I’ve seen him officiate, has often awarded penalties when lesser officials would have wielded a card to ingratiate themselves with the safety police. A rugby team is made up of 15 players, and matches – especially ones of the import of this Test – should be decided after a 15-v-15 contest. Despite the sideshows, this series has showcased the relevance of shrewd tactics and it would be a travesty if the third Test pivoted on a yellow or red card dished out for an event that everyone who has ever caught and passed a ball recognises as an unavoidable rugby collision.
Mariette Adams (senior writer) hopes Morne Steyn recreates history
Nostalgia causes delusion or so the saying goes. And if this makes me delusional, then so be it. But I for one hope that history repeats itself in the third Test. In 2009, the Springboks went into the second Test with a 1-0 series lead after winning the first game. Ruan Pienaar was the starting flyhalf then and Steyn was on the bench. The latter was introduced in the 61st minute and it proved a masterstroke by then coach Peter de Villiers. Trying to stay alive in the series, the Lions levelled the score at 25-all with three minutes to play, but when South Africa were awarded a late penalty, Steyn stepped up to slot the decisive penalty from 53.7m out to wrap up the series in favour of the hosts. Now, 12 years later, Steyn will serve as the back-up flyhalf once more in the all-important Test and I’m sure I’m not the only one salivating in anticipation at the possibility of the 37-year booting the Springboks to another fairytale win.
Dylan Jack (staff writer) hopes the real Cheslin Kolbe stands up
Plenty has been made about the Springboks’ gameplan and the perceived lack of opportunities that are being created for their wingers. However, even Cheslin Kolbe would admit that he did not enjoy his best outing in the Boks’ win against the Lions in the second Test, which included a hotly-debated yellow card for taking out Conor Murray in the air. Amazingly, Kolbe is currently on a 16-game try drought, which includes the games he has played for French club Toulouse. We all know the quality that Kolbe possesses and Saturday would be a good time for him to break that streak.
Andre-Pierre Cronje (staff writer) wants Siya Kolisi to repeat his second Test performance
Many wondered what impact the contentious buildup to the second Test would have on the Springbok players. Captain Siya Kolisi was vocal last week that he felt he had not been paid due respect by the officials in the first Test. Kolisi was clearly frustrated but harnessed that frustration to put in an almighty display in the second Test. Many have argued that is was the best Test Kolisi has played for the Springboks – I would hazard to say it is the best performance by any Springbok wearing the No 6 jersey for many years. With the series now on the line, I hope to see Kolisi once again produce a performance that once-and-for-all shows the rugby world why he deserves respect.