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Ireland's new plan to shutdown Springboks attack

By Rugby365
Bundee Aki, left, and Ciarán Frawley during an Ireland rugby squad training session at Northwood College in Durban, South Africa. (Photo By Brendan Moran/Sportsfile via Getty Images)

Ireland defence coach Simon Easterby has outlined his team’s defensive task ahead of this weekend’s second Test against South Africa in Durban.

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The Springboks have added another layer to their already potent game plan under new attack coach Tony Brown.

Glimpses of the redefined more expansive brand of the attack were evident in the Springboks’ 27-20 win over Ireland.

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They kept the ball in hand a lot more and found space and width on the park on numerous occasions against the Six Nations champions.

Easterby told reporters at the Northwood High School in Durban that he is not surprised by the new attacking nuances of the Boks.

However, he believes Brown does add another ‘dimension’ to the team.

“The ability for them to play to that sort of space, width has always been there,” Easterby said ahead of the much-anticipated challenge at Kings Park.

“They can play a couple of game styles with their forward pack, the ability to win the gain-line and the collisions in [playing] a little bit tighter.

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Fixture
Internationals
South Africa
24 - 25
Full-time
Ireland
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“But in the last couple of years since we have been playing them they have some backs that can play with space, play with footwork and have that kicking game.

“And Tony Brown’s inclusion adds another dimension to the way they can attack.”

Ireland will face more or less the same challenge this weekend against an unchanged Springbok matchday squad.

And while the Irish struggled in the opening exchanges in that first Test, Easterby said they will draw confidence from their second-half display at Loftus Versfeld.

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The defence coach pinpointed the list of work-ons for his team as they prepare for the crucial encounter.

A win for Ireland will ensure that the series ends in a draw.

“They put the ball into space, which we anticipated, but we didn’t deal with that as well as we should have done,” he explained.

“Sometimes, a team will find a way to get into space. We didn’t shut that down in the way that we would normally do.

“There are plenty of fixes for that, but essentially, we have to be better on both sides of the ball, especially in the first half.

“As the game went on we grew massively into it and we finished stronger. We will take a lot of confidence from that.

“You can’t give a side like South Africa the type of space that we allowed because they have too many quality players to put you under pressure and take advantage of that space.

“If you lose a few collisions, you are on the back foot and it is a bit of a spiral of negativity.

“You have to try and create something within that, whether that is the communications, whether that is individuals working within that working a little bit smarter and finding a way to find solutions.

“It is probably a combination of things that we didn’t quite get right in that first 20 minutes when they got some decent gains from us.

“After half-time, we fixed a lot of those things, and we were much more difficult to break down. I thought in the second half, we were much better on both sides of the ball.”

In terms of injuries, the assistant coach reported a clean bill of health.

He said James Lowe, Bundee Aki, Robbie Henshaw, Andrew Porter and Jamie Osborne are all available for this weekend.

Henshaw was withdrawn with a head injury at half-time after his mouthguard indicated he’d been in a heavy collision with Siya Kolisi.

However, he has been following the return-to-play protocols and Easterby said he is on track for the match on Saturday.

Head coach Andy Farrell is set to name his team on Thursday.

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Comments

3 Comments
J
Johann 1 day ago

It's not really a plan if you expose it before the game Mr. Fix it. It's a reply to another man's plan. Rassie plays and we play catch up. It's not a plan as much as it is a fixing of a leak. Plans are proactive and this reads more like a reaction. But we can call it a plan, because everyone has a plan until the first collision.

K
KiwiSteve 1 day ago

Ireland are going to win the world cup 🥤

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Tom 54 minutes ago
All Blacks snatch another tight victory from England at Eden Park

First up to any of the ABs fans who accused us of “bluster” pre-series for saying it would be a competitive - I'm glad it turned out to be an excellent series to which the ABs were deserving winners and I hope next time a side tours you'll be a little more humble. I loved the heart shown by the English boys and how they managed to contain the AB attack for large parts of the series. Was very disappointed by the lack of cohesion and ambition ball in hand, we looked after the ball poorly and hardly went 2 phases without kicking it away. We're not giving ourselves enough opportunity to put phases together and build pressure. The ambition shown in the 6N against Ireland and France seems to have gone and our players look very hesitant with ball in hand, we look much better when Marcus is taking the ball flat and boys are running hard at the line. So frustrating when we're starting to build pressure in the 22 we go back to the grubber kick then find ourselves back on the half way line 10 seconds later. We've shown great success with our box kicking game but we need to leave the flipping grubber kick in the locker room. Like the Marcus Smith hail Mary miss pass that went straight to Mark Telea, we seem to have no patience. Sometimes we just need to recycle the ball and go again. Loving seeing Maro back to his best and Fin Baxter really impressed, Alex Mitchell looks to be one of the most complete 9s in world rugby, great around the base and impeccable kicking. Congrats to the ABs, far more dangerous and skillful than England. We contained you for large swathes but to shut down that amount of pace and skill for 80 mins is nigh on impossible. Managed to find a way to win and instinctively grabbed the rare opportunities which came your way. Finding ways to win in two tight test matches will I'm sure be a great experience for your younger players. Beauden needs to be in the starting 15, what a worldie.

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