The old saying holds true, a week is a long time in rugby. Think back a week ago. A certain team fielded a rather mismatched backline. We has an ex fullback at 13 who was way too old, another fullback at 10 who was way to young, a discard at 12, a snail at 14 and a perennial Vodacom Cup player at 9. I mean really how did the Sharks think they could win this one?
In WP, they faced an all Springbok backline save for their highly acclaimed goal kicking ace, Willem De Waal who sported 3 Currie Cup winners medals in his cabinet. I mean they even named a drive after him in Cape Town so he must be pretty good hey?
Well the rest is history as they say.
This week is much of the same. We have an Ireland backline comprising of six Leinster players with only Tommy Bowe at wing being the odd one out. Combinations won’t be a problem it seems! They are settled, they are classy and on paper have the beating of their opposite numbers if you read the news.
The Boks have more issues than Lindsay Lohan at first glance. A fullback at centre, a wing at fullback, a plethora of injuries, form worries and match fitness are all creating another few furrows on the fan’s faces. We won’t even go near the coaching staff.
The thing they DO have, much like that team in black and white did last Saturday is a powerhouse tight five, and a classy loose trio with balance. They have an experienced mob surrounding the test débutante Deon Stegman, which he is familiar with and which should provide a solid platform.
With a 70% chance of rain being predicted by some, this battle should be between the big men it seems. Its an area that the Bok’s if they play to their potential might just boss the paddy potato eaters in. The Irish front row is unsettled and each one of the three is from a different province so cohesion could be an factor.
The Beast needs to exert himself in applying pressure to their huge tighthead (he apparently stands at 196cm and weighs 130kg) by getting under him at scrum time. Tall tightheads (Sir Carl Hayman aside) can get a mauling if the right technique is applied by the shorter man. Pressure at scrum time and front foot ball make any backline look a tad flashier. Add some ticker and we will have a game on our hands.
Our makeshift backline needs to take inspiration from the Sharks last weekend and play with fire and heart. Desire can trump disaster here. “Believe” (Terblanche, 2010).
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