Boks to slay Welsh Dragon ... again

Meyer’s men want to fin­ish a tough tour with a good vic­tory

The Star Early Edition - - CRICKET - ASHFAK MO­HAMED

HE SPRING­BOKS SHOULD feel that they have a score to set­tle with Wales. That might sound im­prob­a­ble as the South Africans haven’t lost to the Red Dragons since 1999, which is also their only de­feat. And Heyneke Meyer’s team tri­umphed 2-0 in a June Test se­ries on home soil.

But the sec­ond of those games, in Nel­spruit, ended in highly con­tro­ver­sial fash­ion when, in the sec­ond-last minute of the game, the Boks were handed vic­tory after Aus­tralian ref­eree Steve Walsh de­cided that a tackle from Welsh full­back Liam Wil­liams on Cor­nal Hen­dricks, who was fly­ing to­wards the try­line close to the cor­ner flag, was a shoul­der charge and war­ranted a penalty try.

That took the score to 30-29 in Wales’ favour, and Morné Steyn kicked the easy con­ver­sion to win the game for the Boks.

The Welsh would’ve felt that they were robbed of a mo­men­tous vic­tory, as the Wil­liams chal­lenge prob­a­bly should’ve re­sulted in just a penalty. Even Bok coach Meyer said this week that Wales “were prob­a­bly the bet­ter side on the day”.

Wales are ar­guably a bet­ter team than what they were in June, and they’ve proved that by run­ning the Wal­la­bies and All Blacks close over the last few weeks, where they prob­a­bly should’ve won both games. They’ve al­ways had a strong pack and will se­cure enough pos­ses­sion, but the emer­gence of new scrumhalf Rhys Webb has added some spark to their at­tack in­stead of the veteran Mike Phillips, who is not the force he once was.

And then there are the usual threats of barn­storm­ing cen­tres Jamie Roberts and Jonathan Davies, as well as wing Alex Cuth­bert and full­back Leigh Half­penny, who will be spurred on by a 74 500ca­pac­ity crowd.

But there is no rea­son for the Boks to fear the Welsh, even with­out a num­ber of ex­pe­ri­enced cam­paign­ers such as Bryan Ha­bana, JP Pi­etersen, Schalk Burger, Willem Al­berts and Jan­nie du Plessis.

They have been out­stand­ing in the scrums since Septem­ber in the Rugby Cham­pi­onship, and will be bol­stered even fur­ther by the re­turn of Tendai Mtawarira at loose­head prop.

Meyer also has se­ri­ous strike-power of his own to call on such as Lwazi Mvovo and Hen­dricks, while Le Roux was de­scribed as the Welsh’s “tor­men­tor” by de­fence coach Shaun Ed­wards ear­lier this week.

With the roof ex­pected to be closed, the Boks need to, once and for all, sort out their prob­lems with their fin­ish­ing on at­tack.

Even though Meyer spoke about a “hot­house ef­fect” at the Mil­len­nium Sta­dium that will ren­der the ball wet even if the roof cov­ers the field to­mor­row but there won’t be any wind and rain to deal with at least, and they just need to find bet­ter ac­cu­racy and va­ri­ety inside the op­po­si­tion’s 22 than the one-off run­ner ap­proach they’ve adopted so far on tour.

It will re­quire cen­tres Jean de Vil­liers and Jan Ser­fontein to at­tack space and look for the off-load in­stead of just run­ning straight and hard at the Welsh mid­field, while Pa­trick Lam­bie needs to con­tinue tak­ing on the ad­van­tage line like he did in the sec­ond half in Padova.

Mvovo and Hen­dricks are deadly when they are close to the try­line, and the Boks need to get the ball into their hands more of­ten and stretch the Welsh rush de­fence across the field, even if it means putting in a few chip kicks over the top.

Oth­er­wise, it could be­come a long and dreary af­ter­noon in the Welsh cap­i­tal. The home side have an ace goal-kicker in full­back Half­penny, who will slot penal­ties from even inside his own half.





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