Pressure, not running will beat All Blacks - HM
Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer has rejected suggestions the Boks will try and run the All Blacks off their feet when the two meet in their Castle Rugby Championship showdown at FNB Stadium on Saturday.
Meyer has been solid in his mantra that the Boks need to be “tactically astute” when they face the World Champions, and Argentina’s capitulation early on Sunday morning SA time has only served to underline this for the Bok management.
The Pumas were beaten 54-15, in large part because they tried to take on the All Blacks at their own game, and tried to run everything at them.
Every time a mistake was made, Los Pumas were punished and the All Blacks recorded a massive victory by not altering their game- plan. But since the Boks’ demolition of Australia at Loftus, there is a sense that the team should play a more expansive game, and there have even been suggestions that the Boks had changed their game-plan.
While the Boks have admitted they simply executed better and used the opportunities that were created on the back of a magnificent forward effort, they know all too well the dangers of not playing the right game against the All Blacks.
In Dunedin, the correct approach was followed; cutting off quick ball to the All Blacks' backs and the forwards pressurised their pack more than any other team has this year.
If it wasn’t for their kicking woes, the Boks would well have had a significant overseas victory to crow about and it is likely they will follow a similar approach again this weekend when the two teams meet.
The big difference of course, is that this Bok team, while under pressure, will be on the Highveld and at home, and will have a massive dollop of confidence to go into the game with.
If their play is tactically correct, and they use the opportunities they create, they can go a long way to upsetting the world’s No 1 team.
Meyer reiterated that the way to face the All Blacks is to attack them with pressure and disrupt their natural game.
“It will be a big test for us, and the All Blacks will have a lot of confidence. These games are always 50- 50s and we will need to push their pressure points,” Meyer explained.
“If you look at Super Rugby as well, a lot of teams often play better rugby away from home. At home there is pressure to run the ball more. New Zealand likes that and if you give them turnovers, they will definitely punish you.
“Obviously we want to play great rugby and we want to score tries, but you have to find the balance between when to attack and when to play tactically.
"If you look at the stats, it (Loftus) was the first game we didn’t have majority possession – we had 45% possession.
“Every game has its own personality and I even said in the pre-game press conference I think this game is going to open up and it will suit us. People didn’t understand what I meant but it would give us a chance to play from their turnovers as well.
“In a sense, I won’t say I was surprised. There is always that pressure at home to score tries and the crowd gets behind you. If you look at most teams, they try to move the ball at home.”
Meyer said that while there was a renewed sense of optimism among the greater rugby public, there also needs to be a reality check.
The Boks need to play the right game if they are to record a victory on Saturday and end their season unbeaten.
“What you have to do is realise you will never beat New Zealand by trying to play their game plan. They have quality athletes from 1-15 and a lot of gamebreakers. We also have a few.
“The one way to beat New Zealand is to apply pressure to them. You’re not going to outrun them. Obviously you have to run in the right areas, and we do want to score tries, but the only way to beat them is to put pressure on them, especially at the breakdown, in your defence and in the kicking game as well.
“You will have to put a lot of pressure on them and force them to play our type of game and force them to make mistakes, and then score off those mistakes.”
The Boks know from Dunedin they have what it takes to rattle this All Black team. What it will take on Saturday is an 80-minute performance, and ticking the right boxes in building a scoreline.
The All Blacks will have raised their game as well since Dunedin, making this clash all the more mouth- watering.