Rassie Erasmus expects there to be an extra edge of desperation from both the Springboks and England in Saturday’s second Test, writes CRAIG LEWIS in Bloemfontein.
The Boks take a 1-0 lead into the clash at the Free State Stadium after claiming a rousing 42-39 win in a high-paced, high-scoring affair in Johannesburg last Saturday.
According to the stats released by SA Rugby, there was ball in play every 31 minutes and 35 seconds at Ellis Park, with both teams showing a willingness to keep the ball in hand and attack the wide channels.
With nippy scrumhalf Faf de Klerk helping to provide the Boks with quick ball, the clash was played at a frenetic pace, and at times there were signs of a battle-weary England side struggling to keep the pace at altitude.
The Boks should look to use the altitude factor in their favour once again this weekend, with Erasmus suggesting on Monday that they were looking forward to this contest at a venue that he knows particularly well from his time as Cheetahs coach.
‘If you look at the numbers [from last weekend], it was a fast, open and intense game with a lot of linebreaks. There was also lot of high-speed running for props and locks to keep up with. It might be even more intense now, we’d like to bury the Test series and they want to keep it alive, both teams will be very desperate. We’re playing at altitude again, so the higher-paced this game is, the more space there will be.’
Both teams were exposed on defence out wide at times during last Saturday’s clash, and it will be interesting to see what improvements are made in this regard this week. England did use decoy runners to good effect at Ellis Park, while they will have identified the need to limit De Klerk’s time and space around the fringes.
Erasmus said they would certainly need to be prepared for a wily English team to offer new threats this Saturday.
‘Eddie [Jones] is sharp, he will have some plans up his sleeve. If they throw something different at us, we have to be able to handle it and adjust on the field as we did last Saturday… It was good to see how the guys adapted. Often when things go wrong, young guys can tend to go into their shells and just try and avoid making mistakes. So credit to all the young guys, who started making big calls, and now we can review everything and get better.
‘I’m sure both teams will make some improvements this week, and it’s just about who can fix things the quickest,’ he added.
— SA Rugby magazine (@SARugbymag) June 11, 2018
Photo: Muzi Ntombela/BBP