Meyer: No repeat of Nelspruit

The Springboks will struggle to beat Wales this Saturday if they start as poorly as they did in the previous meeting in Nelspruit, reports JON CARDINELLI in Cardiff.

There was plenty of emotion following the final whistle at the Mbombela Stadium on 21 June. Wales were in control for much of the contest, but the Boks fought back to score 14 unanswered points in the final 10 minutes. Ultimately, the Boks snatched victory by just 31-30.

Some have claimed that this performance proved the Boks have the physical and mental ability to chase a game. Meyer, however, has subsequently said the Boks will struggle to repeat the feat in different conditions.

On Wednesday, Meyer said the Boks can’t afford to take too much confidence from the 2-0 series win over Wales this past June. The coming game against the Dragons will be played in front of a large, predominately Welsh crowd. The roof of the stadium is likely to be closed, but the artificial pitch will be greasy, and handling may be more difficult than some expect.

‘If you think about that game in Nelspruit, it was played in very warm conditions, and on the highveld. There’s always a chance to come back in those situations, as the opposition is tiring in the final quarter,’ said Meyer.

‘Over here, the game is far slower. You don’t want to be chasing the game at the death. The conditions make handling difficult and there is less ball in play time. Even under the roof [at the Millennium Stadium] there is a hothouse effect, and the ball can become slippery.

‘You have to play a more tactical game, and you can’t allow them to build up a lead. We can’t let what happened in Nelspruit happen this Saturday. We must start well.’

Over the past few days, many of the Wales players have said that South Africa rarely stray from the traditional strengths. Winger Alex Cuthbert told journalists that the All Blacks are less predictable, and this makes them tough to beat.

Meyer, however, feels a modern team cannot hope to win a Test match by simply overpowering their opposition.

‘There isn’t much between the top sides nowadays. If you look at the two packs on any day, for example, most of the players are of a similar size and weight. You can’t just rock up, especially in these very difficult conditions, and expect to outmuscle or bulldoze your opponents. You have to be tactically astute.

‘Wales have pushed us close in recent years. They have some world-class players, particularly in the backline. Big physical players. We have to ensure that we stop their momentum and then use our own opportunities on attack.’

Photo: Steve Haag/Gallo Images

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Jon Cardinelli