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Springboks bracing for another fierce breakdown battle against Argentina

Springboks bracing for another fierce breakdown battle against Argentina

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Durban – The Springboks have beaten the Pumas five games in a row now but perhaps a more comforting statistic is the fact the only team in world rugby to have made more line-breaks than the Boks this year is Ireland, the conquerors of the All Blacks in June.

That means the Boks’ stated goal of growing their attack is working and seldom can it be said the South Africans have cut the line more often in the Rugby Championship than the Kiwis and the Wallabies, both of whom are famous for cutting teams to shreds and scoring bucket loads of tries.

This newfound ability of the Boks to fashion attacks will give them the confidence they need for tomorrow’s grand finale with the Pumas because – let’s face it – the Boks are going to have to keep the Kings Park scoreboard ticking for the whole 80-minutes if they are to pip the All Blacks at the post for the Rugby Championship title.

I am predicting, of course, that the Kiwis are going to beat the Wallabies by some margin in Auckland and nail the bonus point try in the process. At the All Blacks’ fortress that is Eden Park, I can’t see the Aussies replicating that (almost) match-winning performance they mustered in front of a massive crowd in Melbourne last Thursday.

The Kiwis just don’t lose at Eden Park – okay, 1994 was the last time – and tomorrow (9am SA time) I expect this Wallabies team to perish in the same way as so many of their predecessors.

For the record, the Boks have made 42 line-breaks this year, three less than Ireland, and 11 more than Argentina, who have had some excellent wins this year, including beating Australia 48-17 a few weeks back.

They also beat the All Blacks in Christchurch in this Rugby Championship and they did that, not by attacking and scoring tries, but by ruling the breakdown. They bullied and bashed the All Blacks off the ball almost at will in that game and thus it is no surprise that the Pumas have made the most turnovers in the competition (29), although that figure is just one more than the Boks (28).

Therefore you don’t have to be a brain surgeon to work out that the breakdown battle is going to be fierce tomorrow, just as it was last week when the fired-up Boks bossed the breakdown in the first half and then lost it in the second half when the Pumas came charging back.

“The breakdown battle is probably the key to this game,” said Makazole Mapimpi when he spoke to the media on Wednesday.

“Getting the front-foot ball to attack is vital. Similarly to their forwards, their backs are very physical, and that is something we’ll need to try to match in the game,” said Mapimpi. “They are a very tough team and will try and intimidate us.

“We need to make things personal and be at our best,” Mapimpi stressed. “It’s very important for us as a team and for the fans to win the competition and see things come together after a long season.

"We played a few games away from home, we have been on the road for a long time, and it’s great to be back home and have a chance to win the Rugby Championship, so we are looking forward to this final immensely.”

Springbok starting XV: 15 Willie le Roux, 14 Canan Moodie, 13 Jesse Kriel, 12 Damian de Allende, 11 Makazole Mapimpi, 10 Frans Steyn, 9 Jaden Hendrikse, 8 Jasper Wiese, 7 Pieter-Steph du Toit, 6 Siya Kolisi (capt), 5 Lood de Jager, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Frans Malherbe, 2 Malcolm Marx, 1 Steve Kitshoff.

Replacements: Bongi Mbonambi, Ox Nche, Vincent Koch, Franco Mostert, Duane Vermeulen, Kwagga Smith, Faf de Klerk, Kurt-Lee Arendse


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