Preview: South Africa v Fiji

South Africa will complete a unique World Cup hat-trick at the Stade Velodrome, Marseille, on Sunday. They will play a third game against a Pacific rival, this time Fiji, in the same tournament.

The only difference is that it is in the play-off stages, the quarter-finals, and every game is a “must win” affair.

Not surprising then to hear Springbok coach Jake White suggests that he knows exactly how to overcome the pace and power of these gifted Polynesian athletes.

White’s “it’s not rocket science” declaration earlier this week may still become one of the key catchphrases of the global showpiece.

However, he wasn’t trying to be funny, clever or dismissive.

If anything, he said what we all know and what the South Africans would have learnt from their encounters with Samoa and Tonga in the pool stages.

Against the Samoans the Bok forwards took control and the team was clinical. After the initial resistance was broken down, the Boks raced away to a convincing 59-7 win.

However, when they took on the Tongans it was with an under-strength team, motivation seemed to lack, and there was very little talk of structure. It required the introduction of a host of his first-choice players to make the game safe.

The recipe to beat the Pacific teams is simple – as White said.

Take control of the set pieces, hold on to the ball at the breakdown and ensure they don’t get turnovers. Yes, you will have to endure some big hits, but if you control possession, the Fijians should lose heart.

The value of the set piece battle is not to be underestimated and Fiji’s forwards coach, Greg Mumm, is the first to admit that they will have to “step up” against the beefy Boks on Sunday.

Mumm has obviously read what White and other South Africans have had to say about the game this week.

It is pretty obvious the Springboks will target the Fijian pack, the part they regard as the soft underbelly, at the Stade Velodrome on Sunday.

However, Mumm suggested that the Fijian forwards had improved because they were benefiting from having been more included in the team’s gameplan.

“One thing we have spoken about from the start of our whole programme was trying to create a feeling in the pack that the Fiji forwards are vital to the team – as important to the team as the backline,” he said.

“Sometimes in the past in the media the forwards have always been second to the backline and almost brushed over in terms of not being an integral part of the team.

“We have spoken about making a name for ourselves as much as possible so that we are respected as part of the team.

“So because of that attitude we are not overly daunted by the South African pack. Sure they will be challenging but every team has been challenging for us so far.

“Each time these guys go out there they want to prove that they are not just the poor cousins to the backs.”

Mumm certainly has a point.

In that dramatic (38-34) pool victory over Wales last week the Fijians were sound in the line-outs – in fact they looked better equipped than the Welsh.

However, in the scrum the Fijians were no match for the Welsh and against the Boks it could get ugly in this department – even with the front row injury crisis in the Bok camp.

“This weekend against the Boks the line-out will be a bigger challenge. They have an outstanding defensive line-out with Victor Matfield, so we’ll have to manage that.

“Last week, while we had 11 wins off our own throw, in terms of the quality delivered sometimes it was a bit messy, so one area we have spoken about this week is delivering better quality ball to our backs from the line-out.”

Mumm admitted, however, that the scrum was going to be a major test of his players.

“The scrums obviously are going to be a fairly big challenge,” he said.

“All our props are fairly inexperienced

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