Rugby Union

South Africa v New Zealand pre-match prediction

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South Africa will be looking to overpower New Zealand for a place in the final, and send the current world champions home at the semi-final stage of the World Cup.

The South African’s do hold a good record against the All Blacks at Rugby World Cups, however, the Boks may need to add another dimension to their game after going back to predictable tactics after a loss to Japan.

The raw power game did work well for South Africa in the Pool stages, following defeat to the cherry blossom of Japan, though you felt Scotland didn’t actually try to challenge them, and Samoa did manage to match the Boks power game, only for indiscipline to let them down.

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The All Blacks, on the other hand, have dominated their pool without shifting into the high gears more than once - against fellow semi-finalists Argentina. They solidified these sluggish performances with a rampant display against the French in Cardiff during the quarter-finals.

Key Battles

The Spring Boks weapon of choice is the driving line out, as shown against Wales in the quarters. Sam Whitelock and Brodie Retallick with the need to take a tip from Luke Charteris and disrupt the line out drive legally.

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An area the Springboks have been exposed in recently is the scrum while New Zealand are not the most powerful scrummagers in world rugby. Tighthead Owen Franks could defang the vaunted beast.

South Africa are effectively playing with two open sides having Francois Louw and Schalk Burger in their back row. This is an area where they could pressure the All Blacks who have only Richie McCaw as their key breakdown operator - he may face a tough day, despite his quality.

Both New Zealand and the Springboks depend on their scrum-halves to dictate tempo. Aaron Smith and Fourie De Preez direct their team and are sniping threats. The scrum-half who plays best will be on the winning team.

Ma'a Nonu and Damian de Allende have been responsible for getting their teams on the front foot in attack. Both are big men who can crash ball and act as a second playmaker. It will be a battle of hard tackles and hard running to see if the old master or the young prospect can dominate.

Ben Smith and Willie Le Roux will be key in getting their dangerous wingers into the game and countering the tactical kicks Dan Carter and Handre Pollard will be sending their way. Smith is likely to have a slight advantage in defence and Le Roux has not been at his best up until now.

Key Men

Duane Vermeulen was key in the Boks' defeat of Wales and will need to be at his barnstorming best to put them on the front foot.

Julian Savea and Nehe Milner-Skudder both have been exceptional this tournament but are coming up against experience and legendary opposition in Bryan Habana and JP Pietersen.

South Africa will be unable to handle the high-tempo passing game New Zealand have perfected. It will move around their big forwards too much, causing miss matches, which the All Blacks will exploit.

The Africans' tactics are quite basic and predictable at the moment, with New Zealand knowledgeable of what is coming and looking to neutralise the runners at the breakdown by slowing the ball.

The Boks have become vulnerable in the last twenty minutes when many of their players begin to flag.

It should be a close contest with New Zealand having to contain South Africa's power game in the first half.

However, I predict the All Blacks will win by a decent margin, scoring most of their tries in the second half once the South African’s begin to tire.

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Topics:
South Africa Rugby
New Zeland Rugby
Rugby Union
IRB Rugby World Cup

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