Thinus Delport: Springboks to show strength in depth against Scotland
By Thinus Delport. Last Updated: 27/06/14 3:21pm
South Africa need a big game from Schalk Burger
South Africa were very fortunate to record the win against Wales last week - what a last minute howler from Wales! I really felt for Sam [Warburton] and Scott [Quinnell] who were sat next to me in the Sky Sports studio last week. They were both absolutely distraught.
But if you have a 17-point lead and cannot capitalise on that then you need to look at why. It’s not the first time Wales have been well in control against South Africa and Australia but have let the victory slip.
South Africa kept their composure and got back into the game. Coming back from 17 points down and then 13 points down shows that the Boks did not panic; they kept their heads and trusted each other. Having that in the bag is important when you come up against teams like New Zealand, who can conjure a good lead out of almost nothing.
South Africa have Scotland up next and this is going to be an interesting game. Scotland have a better record than Wales and Ireland against the Springboks as they have won five games out of 24. However those five wins have all been in Scotland and like Wales, the Scots are looking for their first win on South African soil.
Scotland really target the breakdown and look to slow the ball down and not allow anyone to get any quick ball, so the new Springbok back row combination of Duane Vermeulen, Schalk Burger and Marcell Coetzee is going to be crucial.
The dynamics of the back row has changed massively and will be an area that Scotland will target. Coetzee is the openside flanker while Burger comes in on the blindside. I think the Boks will miss the physicality of Willem Alberts and Francois Louw’s strength over the ball. Coetzee and Burger are really going to have to combine well. They are up against a relatively inexperienced Scotland back row combination – Chris Fusaro has three caps, Rob Harley has six and their 20 year-old No.8 Adam Ashe will be making his debut.
South Africa’s strength has always been their pack and Heyneke Meyer has made a few more changes here. Lood de Jager has done well when he has come on and and pairs up with skipper Victor Matfield in the second row, while in the front row Coenie Oosthuizen is starting at loosehead prop – he has been around the squad for some time and has had opportunities so it’s good to see him get a start. Bismarck and Jannie Du Plessis have played a lot of rugby already and always put in the hard workloads and will be looking to put in one more effort in the final Test match of the summer.
The biggest change in the Bok team is the introduction of Handre Pollard at fly-half which is an interesting selection. I think Meyer was always going to have a look at Pollard but injuries have forced his hand a bit here. Pollard is a very talented player and a step up into the Test arena will show us what he is made of and hopefully he can build on his fantastic performances in the Junior World Championship.
The only other change in the backs is and Lwazi Mvovo in at No.11 and with his pace and the fantastic skills of Willie le Roux and Cornal Hendricks, I do expect the Bok backs to exploit space and really attack Scotland.
On the bench it is good to see lock Stephan Lewies get an opportunity – he has been very good for the Sharks. It will also be interesting to see what Teboho 'Oupa' Mohoje can add to the back row when he comes on.
It is a changed side but it is still a side full of talent and opportunities but they need to adjust quickly in terms of the new combinations and raise the intensity right from the start.
That will be key for South Africa – to raise the intensity and the pace of the game. They showed in the match in Edinburgh where they won 28-0 that if the Boks get quick ball and can create some space then they can really hurt Scotland.
Wales showed in that second test that if you match the physicality and intensity of the boks then you can really put them under pressure. Do Scotland have the players to reach that level of intensity though?