I just had a chat with my colleague from Wales. It is interesting how these Welsh rugby romantics always fancy themselves; always reckon they will win it even though they have won us only once since 1906 and in very bizarre circumstances one has to add.
My question to him was how do you think Wales will approach the match? First thing he said was our tight 5 is our strength and we’ll keep it tight; try to nullify the Springboks at the scrum, won our own lineout ball and we’ll attack around the fringes. On this my question was don’t you think they will run it? Upon which he answered, yes, we’ll run it but depending on who get selected on 10 and 12 we’ll keep it close and will spread it wide only once we’ve made some inroads around the fringes.
In one of the Welsh newspapers I found the following remark by a Welshmen expressing very similar sentiments. He wrote:
“Whatever team SA put out, you know it's only going to do two things and that’s be physical and go up middle at centre. Very simple but effective and the only way to stop it is to stop it at source. Attack the 10 channel; stop the ball from getting out to the centres and the SA attack is nullified.”
“When they kick, run it back at every turn, our back three have to attack the outside channels and move their big forwards around on the counter.”
“Our Scrum won't be as effective against the Boks as it was against the Aussies so we need quick ball from Scrum and at ruck time. We need the likes of Hook and Shane to attack their outside centres where they could create havoc.”
“Wales to win within 5 this Saturday.
Very stereotypical view of South African rugby, isn’t it?
Notice “create havoc out wide” so as if the Welsh have any real flair out wide.
However, in the same article they quote Pierre Spies about this question –how would Wales play the match?
Spies said: “Wales have got a very good forward pack and will be bringing it at us all day, especially with a player like Phillips.
“He always asks questions around the rucks – and that’s where the most questions are going to be asked.”
The following remark by a Welsh supporter can also be seen at the bottom of the article:
“I’m appalled at how South Africa has conducted themselves as the world representatives of Rugby...from the eye gouging to the "justice" armbands...most players banned in this tri nations... shocking.”
Clearly the Welsh think we’ll be physical with lots of dirty tactics but that they can match us up front. My Welsh colleague also said he don’t think we will present any turnover challenge at the breakdowns so Wales will keep it close with the tight 5 but will keep the ball in hand spreading it occasionally after punching holes with starter moves involving Shane Williams and/or Andy Powell (if he plays).
I think we need to make sure we play the game in their half and keep them under pressure. We should kick for corners and these kicks will have to be well placed (in space) and we need to follow-up to ensure they don’t throw the ball in quickly.
We should then either maul of the line-outs and/or use the pods to punch holes. Also we need to keep the ball in hand to control the tempo of the match and to prevent them from stringing the phases.
We need to put them away early in the match and then maintain the pressure by pushing the ball into the corners and force them to try and run it from their own goal line.
In the last 20 minutes we’ll need to be very clinical and maintain our concentration levels. This applies to Morné Steyn in particular; we don’t want a repeat of the tri-nations and this weekend were we ended-up under extreme pressure (losing a match in the tri-nations) because of silly mistakes like not landing a penalty line kick. Neither do we want to give the ball away at lineout time because we can’t hear the calls. Bismarck and Matfield should make the lineout decisions running up to the lineout.
In essence we need to make absolutely sure we don’t allow them to start running at us and to loosen the game up. Knock them back at the fringes and keep the pressure up. The Welsh is a rugby mad country and their technical skills has very little comparison we can expect them to be very precise and technically flawless with ball in hand. So push them in the corners and get the ball and hold on to it.
Lastly, I am looking forward to see the JdV/Frans Steyn combo in the midfield. Personally I think this could be a lethal combo with Jean setting Frans up and Aplon running off Steyn’s shoulder. I also think we should spread the ball –if the roof is up- occasionally using decoy and/or angled runners to see what Basson can do. He’ll be an unknown factor and I have a feeling he can beat the Welsh on the outside.