The SA Rugby magazine team identify what they would love to see come out of this Sunday’s semi-final clash between the Boks and Wales in Yokohama.
Jon Cardinelli (chief writer) wants the Boks to show some composure and accuracy on attack.
How many times have we seen the Boks drop the ball or throw a forward pass at this tournament? While their defence and set-piece performances have been encouraging, their inability to cash in on attacking opportunities with any telling consistency has been concerning.
Duane Vermeulen summed it up best this week when he said that South Africa won’t have many scoring chances against Wales. The Boks have to translate their dominance into territory and points.
Craig Lewis (editor) hopes Siya Kolisi produces another inspirational performance.
You have to hand it to the management and medical team for the manner in which they have handled the Bok captain’s return to play since he overcame a worrying knee injury just prior to the World Cup.
More than a few eyebrows were raised when Kolisi was pulled from action early on in the second half against the All Blacks in the tournament opener, but it was all part of a bigger picture.
There has been a very scientific plan behind Kolisi’s reintegration, and in the quarter-final against Japan, it was fantastic to see the skipper looking back to his best.
The industrious flank got through a mountain of work on defence, and if the Springboks are to power their way into the World Cup final, it will be crucial for their leader to make yet another massive impact in what is undoubtedly his biggest test as captain.
Mariette Adams (staff writer) wants Sbu Nkosi to make up for lost time.
There’s a saying in Afrikaans that perfectly summarises the Cheslin Kolbe-Sbu Nkosi situation. It goes: Die een se dood is die ander se brood.
It roughly translates into one person’s loss is another’s gain, and that’s precisely the case here.
Kolbe suffered an untimely ankle injury in the quarter-final against Japan and has subsequently been ruled out of the semi-final – much to the delight of everyone in Wales, even those in the far reaches of the valleys.
And, as a result, in comes Nkosi to win just his third World Cup cap. He played against Namibia and Canada, but with Kolbe and fellow wing Makazole Mapimpi each going through a purple patch at the tournament, Nkosi has had to watch from the sidelines.
Now he has an opportunity to remind everyone, and in particular Rassie Erasmus, of his worth in the green-and-gold jersey.
Losing Kolbe is undoubtedly a big blow for South Africa, but I hope Nkosi delivers such a mesmerising performance that there’ll be no need whatsoever – from coach and fans alike – after the game to harp on about how the Boks missed Kolbe.
Dylan Jack (staff writer) hopes Willie le Roux makes a timely return to form.
Among the errors to come from the Bok backline when they get into promising positions, Le Roux is guilty of a good deal of them. However, the fullback is still invaluable to the way in which Rassie Erasmus wants his attack to operate.
Le Roux will come under plenty of pressure from the Wales back three this weekend, especially under the high ball. I backed Le Roux to keep his place in the Bok team for both the semi-final and final (should the Boks get that far).
A return to the form that brought the Boks the Rugby Championship would be much needed in a backline that is struggling to make every opportunity count.
John Goliath (senior contributor) wants Faf de Klerk to put it on the proverbial tickey.
Faf de Klerk’s box kicking has probably been the most-talked-about aspect of the Springboks’ World Cup campaign so far. That quirky little step away, with his left toe pointing skywards just before he kicks drives most South Africans nuts!
De Klerk is obviously playing under instruction to launch these bombs from the base of the ruck, but his accuracy hasn’t been great. He has been bailed out at this World Cup with the Boks’ awesome chaseline, as well as their brilliant defensive work.
But now it’s crunch time. The Boks needs their premier scrumhalf to come to the party and execute box kicks putting Wales under genuine pressure. Wales are very good in the air, so, if De Klerk has another off day with the boot, the limited Boks could find themselves in big trouble against the Six Nations champions.
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