Boks gearing up for Wales clash
Wales are looking to make history in South Africa in the coming weeks but the Springboks clearly have different ideas on how this intriguing Test series will play out.
Head coach Warren Gatland and his Welsh squad are going in search of their first ever victory on South African soil and will be taking a host of talented players to the southern hemisphere for what should be some mouth-watering encounters. However the Boks will go into the two-Test series full of confidence they can defend their impressive record against one of the top sides in the northern hemisphere.
World XV Victory
The two-time world champions’ preparations began last weekend with a 47-13 win against the World XV in Cape Town. Clearly it’s hard to read too much into the Boks’ performance against a side which, although full of talented individuals like James O’Connor, Hosea Gear and Steffon Armitage, would have had little time to get together as a side before facing a very organised team with plenty of experience.
Toulon pair Bryan Habana and Bakkies Botha both scored tries, while Bismark du Plessis impressed, not only with a brace of tries, but will his general play in the front-row.
However the key thing to come out of the game for head coach Heyneke Meyer was the speed at the break down and the fact he wants his side to up the pace to cause the Welsh problems in the upcoming series. The first Test in Durban on Saturday will be decided on who can win the battle at the breakdown and the side that gets quicker ball consistently are the ones who are likely to go 1-0 up in the series. Whether it’s Habana or George North, backs thrive off quick ball and the fact there are so many striker runners on both sides makes for an exciting battle.
Meyer has clearly done is homework on the Welsh and knows what Gatland’s men will bring to the party. Big ball carriers in North, Alex Cuthbert and Jamie Roberts will have to be brought down early and hard before the gain-line to stop Wales getting on the front foot.
Without the ball those players of course can do very little and if the Boks pack can win the battle up front and in the set-piece then that will go a long way in deciding the victory in Durban on Saturday.
Having not played a competitive match since November 23 in the win against France before facing the World XV, there was bound to be a bit of rustiness in Boks ranks. Of course after that 80 minutes and further week into training there will be little risk of the Springboks looking disjointed in a game which is bound to have plenty of betting interest. With the Tests looking set to be pretty evenly matched there will be loads of interest and with online gambling in Africa growing, lots of money can be made on the outcome of these intriguing games. So close is the margin between the teams that it’s a hard one to call but the home support in Durban might just give the Boks the edge to take a 1-0 lead in the series.