• ‘The Springboks will win’

    SARugbymag.co.za's panel of experts on the areas in which Saturday's Test will be won and lost, who the key players will be, and who will be victorious.

    NAAS BOTHA (former Bok flyhalf and SuperSport pundit)

    In which areas of the game will Saturday's Test be won and lost?
    'The importance of the tight five has become more and more evident over the past couple of years. It’s where it all starts, and when the tight five can generate good, quality ball from the lineouts, scrums and kick-offs, it brings the back row and the backs into the game.'

    Who will be the key players?
    'Bismarck du Plessis, Victor Matfield and Eben Etzebeth will all have crucial roles to play. The All Blacks have made a couple of forced changes in the tight five, and the Boks will be targeting the likes of [loosehead prop] Joe Moody and [No 4 lock] Jeremy Thrush, who will be crucial to the New Zealand cause.'

    Who will win and what will the score be?
    '
    I believe the Boks will do it. For the first time, in a long time, we are playing heads-up rugby and we are playing according to where the space is on the field. Considering the power we have up front, this is even more relevant because our runners and distributors will have more opportunity to play to space. The Boks will take it by about five points.'

    HANYANI SHIMANGE (former Bok prop and SuperSport commentator)

    In which areas of the game will Saturday's Test be won and lost?
    'I think the way in which the two sides seize broken-field opportunities will be huge. The All Blacks have always been very dangerous in this regard, and the Boks showed how effective they have become at it against the Wallabies last weekend. On a different note, Jeremy Thrush coming in for Brodie Retallick is significant. Retallick is often used in midfield to distribute, and shift the point of contact. Thrush is a different player, and the All Blacks may not have this asset of their game so readily at their disposal. The Boks will be able to put pressure on the All Blacks ball-carriers without the fear of Retalllick shifting the ball away from the pressure and creating space out wide.'

    Who will be the key players?
    'The Boks will need to find ways of slowing the All Blacks ball down in order to cut off their supply line. The back rows will therefore have a huge role to play, especially the guys who are good on the floor and stealing ball. If Duane Vermeulan passes his fitness test, it will be a huge boost for the Boks at the breakdown.'

    Who will win and what will the score be?
    'The Boks will win 25-19. Motivation will be high because they haven’t beaten the All Blacks since 2011, and they need to do it before the World Cup next year. The Boks have started moving the ball well recently, even from their own half, and mixing it up when they kick and run the ball. The All Blacks cannot afford to just sit back and wait for us to kick, they will have to be wary of the many options the Boks now have.'

    THINUS DELPORT (former Bok fullback and Sky Sports pundit)

    In which areas of the game will Saturday's Test be won and lost?
    'The battle at the breakdown and the Springboks' discipline in defence will determine the outcome.'

    Who will be the key players?
    'Bismarck du Plessis and Handré Pollard. Bismarck was put under pressure at the lineout by the All Blacks in Wellington, and if he gets it right this Saturday together with his physical prowess at the breakdown, the Boks have every chance of winning. Pollard will be expected to maintain South Africa's attacking intent.'

    Who will win and what will the score be?
    'I think the Boks have built momentum and are on an upward curve. Their conditioning has really improved of late which seemed to have spurred them to play with new-found confidence. The Boks will win, I don't know by how much and I don't really care, but have a feeling they'll pull this one through.'

    JIMMY STONEHOUSE (Pumas coach)

    In which areas of the game will Saturday's Test be won and lost?
    'The breakdown will be crucial, but I reckon the box kicks, or rather the effectiveness of the box kicks will be decisive, especially for South Africa. If those kicks are not contestable, the All Blacks will kill them on the counter-attack. The All Blacks' kicks are always 50/50 and they retrieve most of them because their back three are so potent in the air.'

    Who will be the key players?
    'I think the halfbacks will be under the microscope. Francois Hougaard must recycle the ball quickly and Handré Pollard must take it to the line more. And they should keep ball in hand more often instead of kicking away possession. They should not allow Aaron Smith and Beauden Barrett to settle and get comfortable.'

    Who will win and what will the score be?
    'I'll go 24-20 to the Boks.'

    CHRIS ROSSOUW (former WP flyhalf and Maties coach)

    In which areas of the game will Saturday's Test be won and lost?
    'The battle between the two forward packs, especially the tight fives, will be crucial. If the Boks can disrupt the All Blacks' lineouts and scrums, they can win.'

    Who will have a key role to play?
    'Marcell Coetzee, Francois Hougaard and Handré Pollard.'

    Who will win and what will the score be?
    'The Springboks always play well at Ellis Park, but unlike last year [when they were chasing a bonus-point win], they can play their natural game on Saturday. I'll go with the Boks to win 28-24.'

    OLLIE LE ROUX (former Bok prop)

    In which areas of the game will Saturday's Test be won and lost?
    'Defence. If the Boks can stop the All Blacks from scoring in the 10 minutes before and after the break, they can win the match easily.'

    Who will be the key players?
    'I think the performances of the two No 8s and the two halfback pairings will be vital to their respective teams. I just hope Duane Vermeulen will be fit to play, he is the only eighthman in Kieran Read's league.'

    Who will win and what will the score be?
    'I'd say the time is ripe for a Bok victory over the All Blacks. Neither team has the edge going into this match, everything is 50/50. I'm backing the Boks to win 35-27.'

    JONATHAN KAPLAN

    In which areas of the game will Saturday's Test be won and lost?
    'Leadership, strategy, the set piece and the impact of the two benches.'

    Who will be the key players?
    'The two 10s – Handré Pollard and Beauden Barrett will both be instrumental to their team’s success. Their decision-making, while ensuring they get good front-foot ball, will be crucial.'

    Who will win and what will the score be?
    'The Boks' defence is good, and if they can hold the All Blacks out for 60 minutes or so, they can win it in the last 20 minutes. It will be 26-22 to the Boks!'

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    Photo: AFP Photo

    Post by

    Simon Borchardt