SUNDAY LEAD: Evolving Boks likely to face Irish backlash in Durban

rugby07 July 2024 09:41| © SuperSport
By:Brenden Nel
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Conor Murray © Getty Images

As big as Saturday’s Springbok victory at Loftus Versfeld was for Rassie Erasmus and his team, they know that Ireland will want to bounce back strongly and will come at them hard in Durban this coming weekend.

The Bok victory sets up a perfect finale to the opening part of the international season, with Ireland a bit aggrieved at some of the marginal calls that went the Springboks’ way, while the Boks will feel they left a number of tries out on the park as they move to a more expansive game plan under assistant coach Tony Brown.

Either way the game is set up perfectly for Durban with the world’s top two sides likely to go hammer and tongs at each other in another explosive 80 minutes.

And while the Boks had a lot of “good and bad” things in the game, they know the week will be a tough one where a lot of hard work will go in.

The Boks' evolution to a more attacking brand of rugby was evident in their play, but the need to tighten up and the clinical factor wasn’t always there, and it almost cost them on the night, especially as Ireland came back at them hard and were within touching range at the end.

“Overall, everyone knew this was going to be a difficult game, the last three games there was three points between the two sides. There was a helluva build-up to this game and a lot of to and fro talking in the media with pundits. Everyone knew it was going to be close,” Erasmus said afterwards.

“At altitude they handled the game very well in terms of speed and stoppages. They were intelligent and it is something we need to get used to. There were a few things we wanted to get out of this game - a win and we got that. We struggled in the past in the lineouts, and it always gets very technical in the scrums against them and the scrum at the end of the game went well.

“We won the game and the next game we either win or draw. The team that they are, the coach they have, they will be back. They had five players in last year’s team of the year and their coach was coach of the year. That is the type of team they are.

“We are satisfied with the win but there is a lot of work ahead for us.”

That work entails the finer crafting of the attack and there was enough shown at Loftus to make you believe that if they get it right, they could be unstoppable. But how much Ireland would be able to counter in a week will be a key factor, as well as how much more fine-tuning Brown can do in that time.

“I hope you can see we’re trying to develop our attacking game with the foundation that Felix (Jones) laid. With Tony (Brown) we’re trying to step up a little in certain areas and with that comes mistakes and lack of cohesion,” Erasmus said.

“But saying that Ireland are not No 2 in the world for nothing and their defensive system is really sound. It was a very stop-start game, there was a two-minute delay here with either an injury or someone getting treated – it was no one’s fault – but for both teams it hampered momentum.”


Brown’s methodology got the thumbs up from captain Siya Kolisi, who believes the team will only get better.

“I’m really enjoying the way coach Tony is getting the team to attack as a group, so I really enjoyed getting the ball in my hand today. We’re going to get better each week; we are still learning what coach Tony wants us to do but it is only going to get better,” Kolisi said.

Erasmus warned that Ireland would come at them hard in Durban and that the Boks will need to be at their best to clinch a clean sweep.

“Just like tonight, never give up. They will try to come out more dominant. I don’t know if their bench will be the same, but the guys who came on - when Ringrose came on, he was a bit more challenging in one-on-one situations. That’s not saying Bundee and Henshaw aren’t great players, they run over you.

“Crowley will be more settled in the second test. They had a hooker injury and their nine went down, so there were disruptive things in the game, but it was certainly not that we were confident.

“The try of Cheslin was the putaway, where we were lucky but up until the last second, we were still nervy about the game.

“They are definitely not going to go away; they are going to be there, and we will have to really perform.”

The Boks will name their team for the Durban clash on Tuesday.