The Springboks must follow the Blitzboks’ ruthlessly efficient lead to win the two-game series against the All Blacks, writes Jon Cardinelli.
Last Sunday, as South Africa and Fiji prepared to take the field for the Commonwealth Games final, commentators raved about the strengths of both sides. The term “ruthless efficiency” was used to describe the Blitzboks.
Throughout the tournament, South Africa supported their attacking defense to force turnovers as well as their pinpoint kicking game to gain territory. After switching from defense to attack, they took advantage of the opportunities that presented themselves.
Neil Powell’s attacks were relentless and ruthless in the decider. After taking an early lead, they maintained their intensity and physicality through the breakdown. Also, they continued to hit from turnovers and accumulate the points.
The Blitzboks scored five tries, limiting Fiji – the more popular attacking side – to one.
Follow the lead of the Blitzboks
The Boks would do well to follow the example of the Blitzboks in the upcoming miniseries against the All Blacks. Both teams play a similar style of rugby – albeit in different codes. When the Blitzboks and the Boks execute their game plan perfectly, both are virtually unstoppable.
Last year, however, the Boks were anything but “ruthlessly efficient.” While Jacques Nienaber’s side have set exceptionally high standards on set pieces, hitting, collapse and defence, their finish and general temperament in attack leave a lot to be desired.
The upcoming miniseries against the All Blacks is a huge opportunity in its own right. Both games will be played in South Africa – and at high altitude. The Boks have a fantastic chance to win back-to-back rugby championships against New Zealand and win the Freedom Cup for the first time since 2009.
After shaking off the rust in the series against Wales, the Boks appear to be on an upward trend. In contrast, the All Blacks, who suffered a historic series loss to Ireland, are moving in the opposite direction.
Ahead of the first test at Nelspruit there will be much talk about the strengths and advantages of the Boks and the weaknesses of the All Blacks. While much of this talk is justified, the Boks would do well to tune out the noise and refine their game plan.
As the results and performances of the past year show, this Bok team also has a lot to prove.
In 2021, the Boks kept their nerve in the final stages to beat the All Blacks 31-29 on the Gold Coast. However, just a week earlier in Townsville, they conceded a late penalty and lost the game 19-17.
Had they been more sober, the Boks would have won both Tests and secured the Freedom Cup.
You would do well to think about these games in Australia. Their excellent work on set pieces and defense was often undone by poor finishing and decision-making in attack.
Good record in South Africa
Forget the All Blacks’ current form and hints that they are close to hiding in South Africa. New Zealand have lost just one game in this part of the world in the last decade – and that game at Ellis Park in 2014 was decided by a late Pat Lambie penalty.
The upcoming games could last a moment or two. The Boks may only have a few scoring chances.
They have the strikers to win the set pieces and the collisions. Can the full-backs execute the batting plan and can the full-backs win the dogfight? And if so, can the Boks convert those wins into points – and control the competition much like the Blitzboks controlled the last Commonwealth Games final?
Faf de Klerk and Handré Pollard are in the spotlight. You must choose the right options and ensure that South Africa is rewarded for its dominance. From there, the lead group must ensure the Boks maintain their intensity for the full 80 minutes.
While the All Blacks aren’t on form, they still have brilliant individual players like Beauden Barrett and Will Jordan. If at any point the Boks fall into a complacent mindset, the All Blacks could make them pay for it.
Nothing short of “ruthless efficiency” will get the job done in Nelspruit and Johannesburg over the next two weeks.
CONTINUE READING: Rugby Championship Preview: Springboks make progress by winning the tournament
The article Opinion: Springboks must follow Blitzboks’ lead as All Blacks showdowns aware in Rugby Championship appeared first on Planetrugby.com.