Onus is on Bok back­line to de­liver

The Star Early Edition - - SPORT - ASHFAK MO­HAMED

THE SPRING­BOKS are hurt­ing.

There’s noth­ing worse than be­ing brought right down to earth after los­ing to an Ir­ish team who were miss­ing two-thirds of their first-choice front row, their open­side flank, both cen­tres and a wing.

Yes, the Boks are also miss­ing a num­ber of play­ers due to in­jury, but still – they shouldn’t be los­ing to Ire­land, Six Na­tions cham­pi­ons or not.

And you could see that sen­ti­ment com­ing through in the Boks’ body lan­guage this week ahead of to­mor­row’s Test against Eng­land at Twick­en­ham.

They were just a bit more mea­sured and care­ful in their an­swers to ques­tions, and they cer­tainly let out all their frus­tra­tions on each other in Mon­day’s con­tact ses­sion at the Up­per Latymer School sports grounds in Ac­ton.

But while the emo­tion of the Dublin de­feat will play a big part in the Bok ef­fort to­mor­row, it is rather the at­ten­tion to de­tail and readi­ness to re­act to each mo­ment that will need to be in place if they are to con­tinue their eight-year un­beaten run against the English.

The Boks have been at their best this sea­son when they have done things with pur­pose and im­posed them­selves on their op­po­nents – whether it is in the set-pieces, with their phys­i­cal­ity or kick­ing their goals. They need to set the tone to­mor­row, un­like in Dublin, when Ire­land started with a bang and never re­lented.

Star No 8 Duane Ver­meulen couldn’t hold on to the first up-and-un­der from Johnny Sex­ton in the first minute, and then Bryan Ha­bana was tack­led into touch soon af­ter­wards when he fielded a kick close to the Bok 22.

That can­not be al­lowed to hap­pen to­mor­row. There needs to be bet­ter con­cen­tra­tion when the Boks are on at­tack and have pos­ses­sion. Too of­ten last week there was mis­com­mu­ni­ca­tion be­tween Fran­cois Hougaard, Han­dré Pol­lard and Jan Ser­fontein, as well as the loose for­wards. They were all get­ting in each other’s way, and that is how the ball was coughed up on sev­eral oc­ca­sions.

Cobus Reinach will be burst­ing out of his skin when he runs out for his first Test start, and he must be al­lowed to play his nat­u­ral game – look­ing for the break around the fringes, and get­ting the ball quickly out to the backs. Tac­ti­cal kick­ing is not the strong­est part of his game, but if he can set­tle down quickly, he has a boot good enough to take some pres­sure off Pa­trick Lam­bie at fly­half.

Eng­land No9 Danny Care, though, is a hand­ful and in his 50th Test ap­pear­ance, will want to have a big game. He will need to be watched closely, as he is the heart­beat of the English back­line.

While Lam­bie will look to cre­ate space for his out­side backs from fly­half, it will be of no use if Ser­fontein and cap­tain Jean de Vil­liers barely utilise their wings. Ha­bana and Cor­nal Hen­dricks hardly saw the ball at the Aviva Sta­dium as the Boks looked to go up the mid­dle in­stead of stretch­ing the Ir­ish de­fence.

The onus is on the Bok back­line to de­liver against Eng­land, as there wasn’t much more that the for­wards could’ve done in the Ir­ish Test.

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