Tactical shift a must for Boks

The Springboks must revert to a more pragmatic game plan if they hope to nullify Samoa and record their first win at the 2015 World Cup, writes JON CARDINELLI in Birmingham.

Saturday’s game against Samoa can’t come soon enough. The Boks are desperate to get back onto the playing field and atone for an embarrassing defeat to Japan.

Players and coaches have spoken at length about the loss over the past few days, and what needs to be done for the team to bounce back. All the talk, however, counts for little. The Boks want to make a statement, to hammer Samoa and give supporters a reason to believe that they are contenders rather than pretenders at this World Cup.

Of course, the Boks will battle to beat Samoa if they play like they did against Japan last week. They won’t win a quarter-final if they continue to spurn shots on goal. They won’t beat the better sides via an off-the cuff, expansive approach.

That should be obvious following the result as well as the manner of defeat in Brighton. And yet, the message coming out of the Bok camp this week indicates that there is no certainty in terms of how they want to play.

On Monday, backline coach Ricardo Loubscher said that the team was on the right track. Loubscher said that the team aims to score more tries, and that finishing is their biggest issue at present.

Bok attack and forwards coach Johann van Graan picked up on this theme on Tuesday.

‘We scored four tries and won 100% of our ball at the set piece. Of over 100 breakdowns, we lost only four. So I suppose the biggest question is why we didn’t win.

‘Our discipline wasn’t good enough and we didn’t take our opportunities,’ Van Graan said. ‘Why didn’t we take the opportunities? It’s a very good question. It’s not desire thing, it’s more an execution issue. How do we fix it? We have to address it on the training field this week, and then put it into practice on Saturday.’

Heyneke Meyer needs to make changes to his starting combination if he hopes to see an improvement in the performance this coming Saturday. The team needs to show more respect for the opposition by taking any points on offer. With their backs against the wall, the Boks need to go back to a game plan that has led to some notable successes during Meyer’s tenure.

Meyer and the Boks were hailed for their attacking intent in a 2013 Test season that yielded 10 wins in 12 matches. However, the Boks’ success was built on forward dominance as well as a pinpoint kicking game. It was on the back of their superior breakdown performances and territorial dominance that they created more try-scoring opportunities.The Boks scored more tries per game than the All Blacks did in 2013.

The Boks have moved away from that game plan in 2015, and have lost four out of five Tests as a result. Switching to a more pragmatic approach ahead of the Samoa clash will improve their chances of victory in that match, as well as their chances of progressing further in this tournament.

‘We’ve got the belief that we can achieve something special, but at the moment, we are not looking past Samoa,’ said Van Graan. ‘It may sound like a cliche, but there’s no tomorrow for us. We're going to throw everything at Samoa this coming Saturday, and then reassess on Sunday.’

Photo: Christiaan Kotzé/BackpagePix

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