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Saturday, June 15, 2024

New 7-1 Bomb Squad and lanky lineout looters … Springboks did it all against All Blacks

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The Springboks could not have asked for a better final warm-up match ahead of the World Cup than the record thrashing of the All Blacks at Twickenham in London on Friday night.

Here, Leighton Koopman looks at the positives and slight concerns from the 35-7 win as the world champions head into their last week of training in Corsica.

A force to be scrummed with

It was a sight to behold when South Africa won the first few scrums as the front-row of Frans Malherbe, Steven Kitshoff and hooker Malcolm Marx made light of New Zealand’s pack.

What probably had their opponents in the World Cup more worried is when the replacement front rankers in Ox Nche, Trevor Nyakane and hooker Bongi Mbonambi came on with the rest of the “Bomb Squad”, they continued the dominance in the scrum.

The Boks could not have asked for a better final scrum prep as they look to take on Scotland, Ireland and Romania, who are known for being good scrummagers. The way the All Blacks backtracked in this department, even on their throw-in, will be a massive boost for SA.

Lanky line-out looters

It’s not every day you see the Kiwis dominated at the line-out on their own throw, especially when their line-out ace Sam Whitelock is part of the team.

Eben Etzebeth and Franco Mostert terrorised the All Blacks on their own throw, even when the Boks were stuck on their tryline. And when RG Snyman and Jean Kleyn joined the fray in the second half, the pillaging continued.

Apart from the scrums, this was probably the other most pleasing aspect for Bok coach Jacques Nienaber from the Test.

Variation a thing of beauty

This was arguably the most complete performance this year by the Springboks.

Previously, they dominated the Wallabies and Wales and they scraped wins against Argentina on two counts. On Friday, it hardly felt like anything was missing.

The forwards stamped their authority physically, and it laid the perfect platform, but it was not just brute strength used.

They were clever with the variations and the yellow cones of director of rugby Rassie Erasmus on the sidelines defintely had something to do with it.

Captain Siya Kolisi was colossal in the loose, and so too was Snyman when he came on. Off their clean line-out possession, the Boks did not just rely on rolling mauls.

No, they had different moves with different attackers peeling off, and tries by Marx and Kwagga Smith were evidence of it.

Solid defensive effort

There is no doubt that keeping New Zealand to just seven points and scoreless by half-time was some feat.

Nevertheless, there were countless missed tackles which will be a bit of a concern, especially for Nienaber, who is the defence guru of the side.

The Boks were beaten a number of times by the All Blacks runners, but luckily the scramble defence was on point. It saved them from a number of breaks and possible five-pointers.

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Is the 7-1 bench split now?

Nienaber said it was due to a training niggle on Willie le Roux that they opted for an extra forward.

But judging from how they dismantled the All Blacks thanks to the extra power up front, it wouldn’t be a mistake to throw in a surprise bench split like that in the future.

The Boks should be open to it, but it’s going to take a smart plan from their coaching staff if and when they want to make use of it. And when you can field that type of bench against New Zealand, the possibilities against other “weaker” teams can be endless.

Hopefully, the Nuke Squad – as this split in favour of the forwards has been dubbed on social media – is something that we will only see once in a while to surprise opponents.

@Leighton_K

IOL Sport

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