19 Aug

3N Preview — All Blacks vs South Africa
by WAJ
19 Aug 2011

A desperate side v a relaxed side. An out of form side v an in form side. A best XV v a try out XV. There are lots of different ways to look at this game. I think the reality is a bit of everything and it throws up a fascinating game.

Let’s look at the various aspects of the game. Scrums – look pretty even, all 4 props have played little rugby of late so the substitutions will be interesting.

Lineouts – both have struggled a bit on their own throw of late, and with 4 extremely tall locks one or two might be nicked again, especially with the occasionally erratic Big Kev and The Battleship throwing. Could Thommo be the difference here?

The breakdown – this is the area which will dictate this game. Can the AB’s get the quick ball that they want to play with and move the still underdone Boks around the park. The Boks are going to hit this area hard physically to try and disrupt us – lets hope George Clancy has it under control.

Kicking – playing at sea level helps us out here, but you would think Steyn will still kick a lot so big games for the back 3. Slade has his first real test and I reckon he will go OK – he looks a cool customer and will kick less as we try to move the ball around by hand. But he needs to place kick well – a must do.

Backline – I really like the look of the AB’s backline – stacks of talent. The big question is can they gel, if they do it could be a great night. The Boks looked all sorts of stodgy last week – both on attack and defence. The quicker Aussie backs were able to get through or past them a number of times and if they ever threatened on attack I must have missed it. Well thats not true but they only ever threatened with the boot and those days are gone. Steyn in won’t help as he tends to drop back into the pocket but equally Lambie is a good in and will need to be watched. The Bok centres looked very cumbersome and they failed to bring their wings into the game at all. There will be an improvement but if we can maintain the defence of a fortnight ago then they will struggle again.

The big questions for me are how the AB loose trio will gel, and not so much how Thommo goes as an open-side but how they attack the breakdowns and defend as a unit. How rusty will the backline be? Not only from a combination point of view but all so match fitness and individual touch. I am backing the fitness staff here as the AB’s have always been superbly prepared conditioning wise. And lastly will we be able to withstand what will be an extremely physical and fericious start from the Boks without some of the hard heads and calm minds resting in NZ. The other side of that is whether the Boks will go over the top!!

I think we will be down early and our superior fitness will win over in the end.

AB’s by 1 – 12


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