“We will take all the good from this match into next week. We came so close to beating New Zealand in Wellington and I think we can be very competitive next weekend at Ellis Park. We did not play badly in Perth and Wellington. We did many good things there. Tonight was an improvement on that and next week we have to step up again. If we continue this, we can beat NZ next week.” No, that is not Teboho Mohoje or Cobus Reinach making an outlandish, inexperienced statement after five minutes in a Springbok Jersey. Those are the words of Bok captain Jean De Villiers, after Saturday’s 28-10 Rugby Championship triumph over Australia at Newlands.
De Villiers scored two tries in the bonus point win which up until the last ten minutes looked like another laborious South African display of rugby. South Africa still had a shot at the overall title after that match until New Zealand beat Argentina with a bonus point to eradicate those hopes. My feeling is that the skipper might actually be right despite a less than impressive 2014?
Who do I say so?
Well for starters the All Blacks have already won the title and will have nothing but pride to play for whereas Heyneke Meyer’s men might feel they have a point to prove, especially if we go on what De Villiers has said there. The Springboks should have won in Perth and on another day might have won in Wellington. Although that “should have” in Western Australia can be cancelled out by a “should have” in Salta when Los Pumas should have beaten them comfortably before snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.
That said I just feel there could be a determination within Meyer’s squad that the Boks might want this one more. Not that the Kiwis don’t ever want to win a Test against the old enemy. After all, that is motivation enough. But this could be one of those rare occasions when the South Africans want it just that little bit more and the New Zealanders might be slightly complacent.
If I was a betting man I would still go with the world champions but the Springboks have not beaten their great rivals since 2011 and quite frankly Saturday will be as good a chance as they will ever have to catch the men in black unaware, if even just slightly. Add in the Ellis Park factor and the chances are good that the prophesy of De Villiers fulfils itself.