In the past seven years, we’ve had the pleasure of watching New Zealand dominate World Rugby.
Other nations have been playing catch up for close to a decade now. Last year in September marked their seven year winning streak on home soil, SEVEN YEARS!!! That’s unheard of, for any rugby nation. The last time they had lost on home soil before 2017 B & I Tour was against Pieter De Villiers’ Springbok team in Hamilton 2009 Tri-Nations.
The All Blacks are the only side to achieve 14 straight wins five times since 2006. With such an impressive record, who can compete against them, right?
Come 2017, B&I Tour, were NZ rugby was tested in all facets of the game. Worrying signs creeped up “Out Of Nowhere” some would say. But they’d be wrong, looking at this current crop of All Blacks, there’s plenty of holes, plenty of uncertainty, sometimes I even look at how good their current leadership group is.
Kieran Read is a fantastic footballer, some in NZ believe he is the best player to lead the All Blacks to 2019 RWC, I wouldn’t argue with that. He is surrounded by one of the most experienced forward packs in World Rugby, but the question mark in the All Blacks team is their back-line.
With Smith at Half-Back, they seem pretty safe, but as soon as you move to 10, 11, 12 (13) 14 and 15, there’s lack of experience or should I say, they are not as sharp as they were a year ago.
Warren Gatland and his B&I Lions exposed some of the weaknesses during their NZ tour this year.
Beauden Barrett has one of the lowest goal kicking percentages at International level (which proved costly in the Wellington Test against the Lions), also he has coughed up a few Yellow Cards this season. Sonny Bill Williams lacks consistency, struggles under rush defence and has not been effective enough to fill Ma’a Nonu’s boots at 2nd Five.
There’s a bracket on 13 – Ryan Crotty – he’s the MVP in that backline. Without him, there’s no direction, there’s no leadership.
11, 14 and 15 have struggled under the high ball. The B&I Lions proved this in the second and third tests during their tour.
If the Boks are smart, they will need to apply exactly the same tactics as the British and Irish Lions to beat the All Blacks.
Solid Scrum – Boks need to win our own ball
Rush Defence – here Boks will have to be street wise/smart, look out for the kick-pass (close down 10 + 12 channel).
High Ball – Test the All Blacks back three with high contestable kicks
When all else fails, All Blacks like to take it up direct – pick and drive (that’s how they won the first Test against the Lions).
Rucks: we need to dominate and prevent any chance of them getting turnover ball.
In conclusion – With New Zealand still needing to gel, this presents best opportunity for the Springboks to surprise the Allblacks with a narrow win (just like Hamilton 2006).