South Africa vs England 2012: Preview and Prediction
Man it feels like ages since we got to watch the Springboks play and I am just about ready to think back to the last game we played in the RWC2011… no, no I am not…damn you, Bryce.
*wipes away tear*
Terrible memories of SHITake refs aside, we are entering a new Bok era with a new coaching team, new ideas and quality new players. Exciting times and no mistake! Much has been said of the Bok squad picked for this tour with some ridiculous provincial bias leading to some
Stormers fans people saying they will no longer support the Bokke because there are not enough Stormers players and too many Bulls players in the side.
Whaaaaat?! Seriously? Look at new Bok captain Jean de Villiers, does he look impressed?
Come on peeps, let’s at least give Heyneke and our Bok side a few games to show what they can do. Our new coach has only had one week with his squad and has thus gone for a mix of the tried and tested Bok players and players he has worked with and that he thinks will best blunt England’s strengths. Meyer would never pick players purely because they are from the Bulls, he has chosen a side he, Rassie Erasmus, the other coaches and selectors believe will give us the best chance to win.
Let’s take a closer look.
Springboks vs England
I, like most, was surprised by the omissions of Gio Aplon and Juan de Jongh but Meyer has quality wings in Habana, Pietersen, Mvovo and even Hougaard for this series and it looks like taller and bigger players in the backline have been preferred. I must say that I
spat my beer all over the TV raised an eyebrow when I heard Wynand Olivier was named on the bench and Zane Kirchner was to start at fullback. Olivier is not my cup of tea and I know he brings over 30 Tests worth of experience to the bench but I hope he is there for words of wisdom and does not actually get a run. Kirchner on the other hand, has never let the Boks down and has had a very good season for the Bulls. His kicking is solid and his all round game is perfectly suited for the barrage of kicks both England and SA will employ.
I rate Pat Clear for men Lambie highly but the coaches feel he offers more as an impact player, especially as he can slot in a flyhalf if needed to, which is a fair point.
The rest of the backs are the same guys who have done the business for the Bokke in the past and I am glad Frans Steyn is back and looking fit and ready to unleash the donkey boot.
The other big surprise in the squad is the exclusion of Heinrich Brussouw. Unfortunately for Brussuow, the current law changes and varying ruck interpretations by different refs has meant that he now gives away nearly as many penalties as the balls he steals. Meyer has thus gone with newbie and leading tackler in the SA conference, Marcell Coetzee. Coetzee has had a brilliant season so far and offers slightly more as a ball carrier. Brussouw may well be back in the SA team but he may need to tweak his game to do so.
The biggest changes to the forwards are in the locks with Matfield and Bakkies no longer available and Andries Bekker out injured, meaning Juandre Kruger gets his first start next to Stormers lock Eben massive guns Etzebeth. Both these locks have had impressive seasons so far and Kruger does have NH experience from playing for Northampton Saints for two years but it is slightly disconcerting knowing our lineouts may no longer be as dominant, especially with Bismark’s erratic throwing. I rate him highly as a player but his line out throwing has been fairly average this season and I am still worried about the amount of penalties he gives away.
As for England, they will be a confident side after finishing second in the 6 Nations with a close loss to Wales their only blemish in a successful campaign, which included an away win in Paris. They have had longer to prepare and recently smashed the Barbarians by a record score. They too have a new coach but he has had time to settle and has brought much-needed improved discipline to the side.
They are blooding new players in flank, Tom Johnson and prop, Joe Marler and no-nonsense captain, Chris Robshaw will be hoping they can step up, as matching the Boks up front will be absolutely vital if they are to cause an upset in Durban.
Brad Barritt starts at centre next to Samoan born, ferry jumper, Manu Tuilagi. Tuilagi is a bit of a loose cannon and was only recently cleared to tour after being cited for a tip tackle in the Barbarians game. Both these players will be a handful for Frans Steyn and JdV with Barritt possibly feeling he has something to prove in front of his ex home fans.
On the wings, Chris Ashton has been in fine form and both Habana and JP Pietersen will need to be at their best, especially when competing in the air. Of course, much will be decided by the kicking of flyhalves, Morne Steyn and Owen Farrell. Steyn has been slightly inaccurate with his goal kicking for the Bulls lately but has a superb record for the Boks and will need to find his groove early as this game may well be won or lost by kicks at goal.
I reckon the Boks will stick to the basics, use their huge loose forwards to drive and maul and try to play as much rugby in England territory as possible. England may fancy their chances given the new Bok side, coach and extra long Super Rugby season they have endured but solid set play, a risk free approach and uncompromising defence mixed in with some good old-fashioned home support should see the Boks get of to a winning start to the series.
Venue: Kings Park, Durban
Referee: Steve Walsh
Springboks vs England Prediction: Bokke by 5-10