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Tactical improvement demanded of Boks

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Springboks must improve tactics or they'll lose to England

South Africa booked their place in the 2019 Rugby World Cup final against England with an attritional win over Wales on Sunday, but it was a performance that has garnered mixed reactions.

The Springboks got over the line 19-16, in the end, thanks to a late penalty from Handré Pollard, but it was a game that could have gone either way. The match was dominated by kicks from hand, with 73 in total between the two teams, as neither side played with a lot of ambition in attack.

South Africa’s game is largely built upon kicking for territory and playing the game in the opposition’s half. A powerful pack and solid defence will then manage to eke out penalties, which was the case in Yokohama. They can play in other ways, but that was their tactic against Wales on Sunday.

Head coach Rassie Erasmus will not change his approach before the final of the RWC, and has even said that the RWC will not be won by a “very expansive gameplan and wonderful tries.” In spite of that, fans on social media do feel that the Springboks must sharpen their game if they are to overcome England on Saturday.

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It would be unfair to say that Faf de Klerk’s kicking was poor in the semi-final, as he was able to find space or put Wales under pressure on occasions. But that is inevitable when he made 19 kicks himself in the game.

There were equally kicks that were not as dangerous. Ironically, some of the scrumhalf’s poorest kicks went in his team’s favour as they were so short that Wales’ players in the backfield were too deep, and therefore struggled to claim kicks that barely went 10 metres. He cannot expect to be as fortuitous against England.

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Even in attack, the Springboks often looked to grubber kicks from Pollard, Damian de Allende or Willie le Roux as a way of breaching Wales’ defence. It was only when they had a penalty advantage in the second-half that de Allende opted to make a charge on his own towards the line in the wider channels, and was rewarded with a try.

While there are those on social media that are demanding South Africa to kick less, many others are simply calling for an improvement. The frenzied speight of charge downs in the second-half was a microcosm of the entire match in Yokohama, as both teams engaged in a kicking war with varying degrees of success.

Although Wales were sucked into that approach, they grew from strength to strength as the game went on, as the Springboks continued to spill the ball in the backfield. If they are to engage in such a game against England, an improvement is a necessity.

This is what has been said:

It was this tactic that was the downfall of the Springboks against the All Blacks in the pool stages at the beginning of the RWC, as they failed to put Steve Hansen’s side under any pressure under the high ball.

They have improved as the tournament has progressed, but would have been rueing such an approach had Wales managed to sneak a win against them, which was a possibility.

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Springboks must improve tactics or they'll lose to England