Spring­boks preda­tors in the mak­ing

The Star Early Edition - - SPORT - JAC­QUES VAN DER WESTHUYZEN

THE se­ries against France is wrapped up but Spring­boks coach Al­lis­ter Coet­zee wants his team to land a knock-out blow when the teams meet in the third and fi­nal Test at El­lis Park on Satur­day.

Coet­zee’s men have hit back in style at the start of this in­ter­na­tional sea­son fol­low­ing a dis­as­trous 2016 where they won only four times in 12 matches. Con­vinc­ing wins in Pre­to­ria and Dur­ban have lifted the gloom that sur­rounded the team, but Coet­zee says he wants to see his men kick on in Joburg on Satur­day.

“There are times in Test rugby when you need to have a killer in­stinct ... and that’s what I want to see this week­end,” said Coet­zee as his team started prepa­ra­tions in Joburg yes­ter­day for the fi­nal out­ing against the French.

“When you plan to have more line-outs in the op­po­si­tion 22m area and you do that in the game, then you need to be more clin­i­cal,” said the coach, re­fer­ring to a missed line-out late in Satur­day’s match in Dur­ban when Bongi Mbonambi had come on to re­place Mal­colm Marx.

“I want us to be more ruth­less ... in the scrums, in the line-outs, when we have pos­ses­sion. When we are car­ry­ing the ball and we’re in the right ar­eas of the field we just have to look af­ter the ball bet­ter.”

The Boks won the bat­tle against France in Dur­ban on Satur­day and stood tall de­fen­sively, but Coet­zee’s men lost sev­eral ar­eas of the game, like in the pos­ses­sion and ter­ri­to­rial depart­ments, the num­ber of ball car­ries and off­loads made, sug­gest­ing the French had the bet­ter of their hosts in the at­tack­ing de­part­ment.

“Yes, we cer­tainly want to re­act bet­ter when we make a line break, when we need to win a break­down, but you must also re­mem­ber that we weren’t chas­ing the game and that’s why France had more ball car­ries,” ex­plained Coet­zee.

“When you’re chas­ing, like France were, you’re not go­ing to kick the ball away. You’re go­ing to hold on to it ... that’s why they seemed to at­tack so much.”

The Boks made 160 tack­les on Satur­day and missed just 20 for an 89 per­cent suc­cess rate, leav­ing the French frus­trated, even though they en­joyed 66 per­cent of the pos­ses­sion over the 80 min­utes. That al­lowed them to carry the ball 172 times to the Boks’ 73, while the French also made 166 passes to the hosts’ 89 and off­loaded 23 times to the Boks’ eight.

“Our de­fence was out­stand­ing,” said Coet­zee. “It shows ev­ery­thing you need to know about the team’s at­ti­tude.”

The coach added that if the Boks kept work­ing hard for each other and won the mi­cro-bat­tles, they’d con­tinue to get bet­ter, which is the ul­ti­mate goal.

“If we con­tinue to stop the mauls, scrum like we have, de­fend like we have, then the re­sults will come. We need to stay sharp and I know this is a cliché, but if we win the small bat­tles be­tween the whis­tle blows then the re­sult will look af­ter it­self.”

Of course, with the se­ries done and dusted, there is the pos­si­bil­ity of the play­ers be­com­ing com­pla­cent, but Coet­zee said that would never hap­pen with this group of play­ers.

“We’re aware that we haven’t achieved any­thing yet. The play­ers are tak­ing ac­count­abil­ity for their ac­tions ... it’s part of our value sys­tem,” said Coet­zee. “This (win­ning) is what is ex­pected of you when you rep­re­sent your coun­try. You’ve got to keep get­ting up ev­ery week­end, and the play­ers are em­brac­ing that. There is no time for com­pla­cency. We want to make sure we go into the break (be­fore the Rugby Cham­pi­onship) with a pos­i­tive mind­set.”

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