The All Blacks will have a few plans to counter the Springboks’ aggressive defence after struggling against it in their last three meetings. JOHN GOLIATH looks at five things Steve Hansen’s men can implement to get past the Boks’ potent line speed.
There will be a lot more attacking kicking
Richie Mo’unga and Beauden Barrett can control a ball off the boot like a professional golfer hitting a wedge shot into a green. They are masters at getting the distance spot on, as well as the trajectory, whether it be a high bomb or low cross kick. This will give the Boks’ wings something to think about, instead of them just shooting up and covering the space.
Have a bit more patience from slow ruck ball
The Boks’ rush defence has seemed to get under the All Blacks’ skin. In their last three Test matches the Kiwis have made more handling errors than in the last five years against South Africa. They suddenly look, well, rushed when in possession, because they just don’t have any room to operate in. The Boks can expect them to be a lot more circumspect and wait for their chance to pounce.
They may choose to play wide from first-phase ball
The All Blacks have some magnificent backs who thrive in space. The most space they are likely to get against the Boks will be at scrum time and during the lineouts, when the opposition needs to be five and 10 metres, respectively, away from the set piece. The All Blacks could decide to try to move a lot more ball from these positions to give their dangerous wide players the chance to run at their opposite numbers.
Sonny Bill Williams is likely to attack space between the Bok centres
The exclusion of Ngani Laumape from the All Blacks’ World Cup squad was a massive shock. They have decided to go with the wily Sonny Bill Williams, who has not been at his best this year, but does offer a offloading game that could hurt the Boks’ defence. A rush defence only works when you smother the opposition. If Williams can get his hand through the tackle and offload, it could create space for players on his inside and outside.
They will have a real go from turnover ball
The All Blacks showed just how dangerous they can be from turnover ball in Wellington. It’s basically their best chance to get behind the Bok defence. The New Zealanders are masters on the counter, because they normally make great decisions, while also attacking with a lot of skill and pace. They will compete hard at the breakdown with Ardie Savea and Sam Cane in the same back row.
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