South Africa hope turn it around against All Blacks

Springbok head coach Heyneke Meyer has stepped down

South Africa’s Springboks are hoping that a victory at Ellis Park in Johannesburg
over New Zealand’s All Blacks will give them momentum ahead of the Rugby World
Cup.

South Africa’s springboks suffered a late defeat to Australia last weekend
in Brisbane which was their second defeat in succession away from home after
losing to Wales at the end of 2014.

Two losses away from home within a year of a World Cup and a disappointing
Super Rugby season for South African teams is hardly ideal but victory over
the All Blacks will give the Springboks a major boost of confidence six weeks
out from the world cup.

Last year at the same Johannesburg stadium, a monster last-minute penalty goal
by replacement fly-half Patrick Lambie earned the Springboks a rare recent victory.

It was only the second loss suffered by the No.1-ranked All Blacks since they
won the 2011 World Cup in Auckland, and ended a run of five consecutive victories
over their greatest rivals.

Despite home advantage and the backing of most in an expected sell-out 62,000
crowd, the Springboks start as underdogs in the Rugby Championship second-round
showdown.

South Africa surrendered a 13-point lead when losing at the death in Australia
last Saturday a day after New Zealand cruised to a five-try 39-18 victory over
Argentina in Christchurch.

With the southern hemisphere tournament trimmed from six rounds to three because
the World Cup kicks off on September 18 in England, the All Blacks could clinch
a fourth consecutive title this weekend.

A bonus-point New Zealand victory and a home win for Argentina over Australia
in which no bonus points are secured would give the title-holders an unassailable
six-point advantage with one round left.

But when the Test begins as dusk envelopes African financial hub Johannesburg,
rival coaches Heyneke Meyer and Steve Hansen will have one eye on the Championship
and one on the World Cup.

All Blacks coach Hansen has rung the changes when announcing his three starting
line-up so far this year and the visit to Johannesburg came before a 25-16 Test
win in Samoa and the pounding of the Pumas.

The coach who succeeded Graham Henry after the 2011 World Cup triumph has chosen
three right wingers, three centre partnerships, three scrum-halves and three
lock pairings.

So deep is the reservoir of All Blacks talent, first-choice fly-half Dan Carter
and centre-cum-offload magician Sonny Bill Williams have been ‘rested’ for the
Ellis Park game.

“We have got to develop combinations and versatility,” stresses Hansen,
“because if a player is injured during the World Cup he is out for the
rest of the tournament.”

“Facing South Africa will be a pressure situation and there is no better
place than Johannesburg to get answers about players.”

He will demand a plan to stop South Africa replicating Argentina’s tactics
after they scored two tries in quick succession off driving mauls from line-outs.

Driving-maul tries are a Springbok specialty with flanker Heinrich Brussow,
recalled after four years in the Test wilderness, a regular scorer.

Hansen has no love of the tactic, labeling the eight-man drives “bloody
boring” and “illegal obstruction” and wants the law changed to
permit collapsing them.

Meyer has plenty on his mind, including the timing of substitutions, tactical
kicking and a promising but raw centre partnership of Jesse Kriel and Damian
de Allende.

The coach came under heavy fire for replacing impressive hooker Bismarck du
Plessis and props Tendai ‘The Beast’ Mtawarira and Jannie du Plessis midway
through the second half in Australia.

“Did the coach not have a feel for the game?,” asked former All Blacks
scrum-half turned TV analyst Justin M

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