Mini-bat­tles to add to sub­plots

Daily Dispatch - - Sport - By KHANY­ISO TSHWAKU

A GRUDGE match like the All Black v Spring­bok one is set­tled by a num­ber of mini-bat­tles that feed into the game war. Both teams have the ar­moury to out­match the other but the All Blacks of­ten have the bet­ter game-break­ers. The rule is run on con­tests that will have a bear­ing on the out­come.

15 – Damian McKen­zie v An­dries Coet­zee

It’s a case of com­par­ing a thor­ough­bred and a work­horse but both player ful­fil im­por­tant roles for their teams. McKen­zie has been termed by Spring­bok coach Al­lis­ter Coet­zee as an X-fac­tor player and one who can walk on water. He’s proved that week in and out with the Chiefs even though he couldn’t in­spire the team to a Su­per Rugby ti­tle. Coet­zee makes sure the lines are cleared at the back and Boks at­tack from the right places. He also offers more so­lid­ity than McKen­zie when it comes to deal­ing with the high­ball, which is some­thing Coet­zee will def­i­nitely tar­get. The All Blacks though will also see Coet­zee as a de­fen­sive li­a­bil­ity.

12/13 v 12/13 – Son­nyBill Wil­liams-Ryan Crotty v Jan Ser­fontein-Jesse Kriel

Both cen­tres are a case of mix­ing and match­ing dif­fer­ent per­son­al­i­ties and char­ac­ter­is­tics to have work­ing mid­field com­bi­na­tion. The All Blacks have missed Crotty dearly. He may not be flashy but he is might­ily ef­fec­tive from an of­fen­sive and de­fen­sive per­spec­tive. The same ap­plies for Jan Ser­fontein, who like Crotty has made his cen­tre partner look very good through his spade­work. Kriel is explosive and will ask ques­tions of NZ's mid­field de­fence. Kriel dealt well with Aus­tralia's Te­vita Kuridrani but NZ’s backs of­ten have the ben­e­fit of work­ing with front foot ball. That alone will keep the Bok mid­field de­fence on its toes.

9/10 – Aaron SmithBeau­den Bar­rett v Fran­cois Hougaard-Elton Jan­tjies

The Spring­boks have lost an im­por­tant cog in their half­back axis with Ross Cronje with­drawn be­cause of a stom­ach bug. Cronje’s all about crisp ser­vice and less on histri­on­ics. The same has to be said of Smith, who pos­sesses the best pass in world rugby and keeps the fringe de­fence hon­est. Bar­rett knows how im­por­tant Smith is to the All Blacks. — Re­port­ing by Khany­iso Tshwaku

THE Spring­boks are aware that wins in New Zealand are once-in-al­ife­time oc­ca­sions.

Only two Bok coaches in Nick Mal­let and Peter de Vil­liers know how it feels to coach a Bok side that wins in New Zealand.

Even then, there was a 10-year gap be­tween the wins even though De Vil­liers col­lected vic­to­ries in con­sec­u­tive years.

That tells you ev­ery­thing you need to know about the task that awaits the Spring­boks this morn­ing when they face the All Blacks in their Rugby Cham­pi­onship clash at the North Har­bour Sta­dium in Al­bany.

It is a chal­lenge the Boks have to em­brace if they are to en­ter­tain any hopes of end­ing their eight-year drought.

The Boks don’t have World Cup win­ners in their ranks and that’s not a bad thing. There’s no past bag­gage to deal with and they only have two sur­vivors from their last en­counter against the All Blacks, which is one they would like to re­main hid­den in his­tory.

Cap­tain Eben Etze­beth and Tendai “Beast” Mtawarira had to watch on help­lessly as the All Blacks tore them from limb to limb dur­ing last year's 57-15 mas­sacre at King’s Park.

Etze­beth al­luded to the game as one of their turn­ing points even though

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