The Springboks take on Argentina in their vitally important Rugby Championship match in Buenos Aires on Saturday, needing to win, preferably with a bonus point, to keep their title hopes alive.
Here are four aspects of the game the Boks need to get right if they want to triumph over the hosts.
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The Boks have had a mixed time of it in the scrums this season, after having built up a reputation as one of the fiercest forward packs in world rugby. From one week to the next they seem to go from dominating the scrum, to being completely nullified by the opposing team.
If teams are managing to work out how to nullify the Bok pack easily that will be a worry for the team management. However, this is the first time this season that the Bok and Argentinean packs are meeting, so the Boks will hope to gain the upper hand in the scrums, which will give them a good platform to play off in the match.
The Boks’ kicking game will need to be on point if they want to pick up a good away win in Argentina. The Boks’ kicking game has been a hit and miss this season, with it seeming to work better in games when it is not the sole focus of their play.
They enjoyed strong performances with it in wins over Wales, the All Blacks and Wallabies, but also produced poor kicking performances in losses against the All Blacks and Wallabies. Goal kicking will also be key in the match against Argentina, and although flyhalf Damian Willemse isn’t a frontline goal kicker, he will need to nail his shots at goal in what could become a very close game.
The Boks finally showed what they can do when keeping the ball in hand during their impressive win over the Wallabies in Sydney. They managed to score a couple of tries showing superb soft skills, with some good offloads, strong line breaks, around-the-back running and top finishing showing that their play is not all about the kicking game.
The forwards were particularly impressive in this aspect of the game and it will be interesting to see if they can continue playing in the same manner or if they will revert to type against a physical Argentinean side.
The bench battle could end up being key in the second half of the match against Argentina. The Boks have once again gone with a five-three split of forwards to backs on the bench, giving them an extra option in the backline.
Deon Fourie will be covering the hooker berth again, but Malcolm Marx might play through, as he did against Australia, which means the Boks could have three loose forward replacements, with Kwagga Smith and Elrigh Louw the other two.
Ox Nche and Trevor Nyakane will provide front row cover, while Faf de Klerk will back up Jaden Hendrikse. Andre Esterhuizen will add some bulk to the midfield in the second half, while Frans Steyn’s boot could play an integral role at the end of the game.