Boks to target England lineout
Keen to take another step up in performance, the Springboks have set their sights on England’s lineout when the two sides meet in Johannesburg in the second test this weekend.
England’s setpiece worked to their advantage in the first test, and the tourists used some good line speed to control good ball from it, especially with two rookie Bok locks in their first outing.
What's more, the English did well in negating the effect of the rolling maul – traditionally a weapon of choice of South African packs – as they looked to stop the Springboks gaining momentum.
But a week on, and with the Bok pack more settled, the call has gone out to target the setpiece and ensure that the English don’t get much quality ball from their own throw-ins, thereby stopping attacking movements from the start.
Bok assistant coach Johan van Graan confirmed as much in discussing his area of expertise after the first test victory.
“We knew they were going to come out and play. I thought they stopped the maul quite well and the scrum was a battle. It certainly will be another battle this weekend.
"The breakdown they counterrucked well. Their lineout speed was good and that is something we’re going to work on this week, is to target their lineouts,” Van Graan said.
“We’ve had a week to settle and hopefully we will keep on improving this weekend.”
Van Graan was full of praise for the two young Bok locks, even though three balls were lost in the lineouts.
Given the pressure of their first test together as a combination and the pressure the squad was under, the Boks were pretty happy with the performance offered.
“Juandre did pretty well first test match. It is a lot of responsibility on a 5 lock to make all the calls and also organise the contesting and also organise the kickoffs,” Van Graan explained.
“There were 15 lineouts on our ball, and we lost three. Eben has had such an amazing season and he will continue improving and his clean-outs were exceptional this season.”
Despite the first half where England managed to upset the Bok rhythm, the second-half dominance is something the team will be looking to continue when the sides meet again.
“It was a good performance by the forwards. We started slowly but as the game went on we did quite well. There is a lot of work to be done and we can still improve a lot.
“There was a bit of perception there at the breakdown that we were bad. There were 96 breakdowns and we only lost five of the balls, of which three were carriers’ faults. We will keep on working on that. We adapted quite well at halftime and it is certainly an area we will be looking to exploit come this weekend.
“England did well, they counter-rucked and brought numbers from us to the breakdown, and on the second or third breakdown we were perhaps short of a number once or twice. Percentage-wise it is not really a problem, but we always want to improve. England must get a lot of credit for that, they are a typical northern hemisphere side and they contest the breakdown a lot differently than in Super Rugby.”
Van Graan said the team would look to be more clinical this weekend, ensuring quick ball and good decision-making gets them the result they want.
“It’s all about the quickness of the ball and the advantage line. The more we got quick ball, the more it got into the backs' hands and they scored the two tries. The whole plan of coach Heyneke revolves around good decision-making. The better the decision, the better the chance to score points. We’re looking to play total rugby in a game of decision making.
“They’re (England) a world-class team. Their performance in the Six Nations showed it and their performance in Durban showed it, so give them a lot of credit.
"Those first 20 minutes will be wild for both teams. The team that dominates territory and the team that gets on the front foot will go a long way to winning the test match.”