Expect a wet, wild Twickers clash

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November 11, 2016
Expect a wet, wild Twickers clash

MUST STAND HIS MAN: Eben Etzebeth

Rain and big impact rugby forecast for Bokke v England showdown on Saturday.

It will be a wet weather contest at Twickenham when the Springboks face England tomorrow (4.30pm).

And the two opposition coaches have selected their sides accordingly.

The weather gurus predict 100 percent chance of rain at the ground, meaning running rugby will not be the order of the day.

Instead, it will be a battle of the setpiece, high balls, collisions and territory.

And it will suit Springbok coach Allister Coetzee to a tee.

Entering the match as the underdogs, the rain will somehow even the odds, despite the fact that the English too enjoy a physical contest.

South Africa’s setpieces have functioned well this year and after shifting lock Pieter-Steph du Toit to the side of the scrum, allowing both Eben Etzebeth and Lood de Jager to be in the team, it’s clear that Coetzee expects a lot of lineouts in the game and therefore has given his team a lot of options at this setpiece.

The inclusion of the Bone Collector, Willem Alberts, at No.6 flank is another indication that perhaps England scrumhalf Ben Youngs was correct when he said earlier in the week that the Springboks will look to “beat them up this weekend”.

Without a recognised openside flanker in their team, South Africa will be looking to win the collision battles.

But in the baby-faced Joe Launchbury, the Vunipola brothers (prop Mako and No.8 Billy) and the tireless Chris

Robshaw they will meet some stiff opposition.

While the collision battles will be interesting, the scrums should make for an interesting duel as well.

With a wet ball, there will be knock-ons and on the slippery surface the scrums will have a big impact on the game.

Springbok tighthead Vincent Koch will have his work cut out against Mako, who has improved on this aspect of his game of late.

Good ball up front, though, is useless if you can’t convert it into points.

And England coach Eddie Jones has prepared for a game in which he expects a lot of penalties.

The Boks will have to be disciplined – even in their own half. Making his first start for England, outside centre, Elliot Daly, has a Francois Steyn-like left boot and will punish ill-discipline from as far as 55m out.

For the shorter kicks, they also have two options in George Ford and Owen Farrell.

The Springboks, meanwhile, have equipped their team with big wingers in JP Pietersen and Ruan Combrinck, clearly expecting the English to pepper these flanks with kicks.

Willie le Roux, who has been chosen at fullback in place of benchwarmer Johan Goosen, will have to show what he is made of in this Test.

It will be make or break for him – especially under the high ball.

His opposite number, Mike Brown, is superb in the air and has good positional play as well.

How well the two fullbacks will do when it rains high balls will have a big influence on the game.

In tight matches like these, it is often a moment of brilliance that ultimately separates the two teams.

And you get the feeling that the Springboks’ midfield of Damian de Allende and debutant Francois Venter will have to provide that for the Boks.

De Allende has had a torrid time in 2016, but he can erase the bad with a good performance on Saturday.

A battering-ram run where he offloads for Venter to finish will be the ultimate dream for Coetzee.

The English, meanwhile, have two great ball distributors in Forde and Farrell and should the ball go wide to Marland Yarde, the Boks might be in trouble. Big trouble.

So while the odds are stacked against the Springboks on Saturday, they shouldn’t be written off completely.

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