RE: Game Plan on Saturday
October 04, 2012, 10:36:13
Thanks - nice post. However, the issue of the Dunedin game was not said necessarily by me - but by your own panelists on the Re-Union programme - although much was shouted about on this site as well. I take it vey seriously if a New Zealand expert said that the Springboks in Dunedin was the better team as far as performances are concerned, I would not try and dispute it.
However, lets look at the issue raised by you - namely that the All Blacks always play better in the second game against the second game against an opposing team in this series. Yes it happened in the games against the Aussies and the Argentinians - but their are very good reasons for that as well. Firstly the All Blacks played Australia away in the first game and at home in the second. The first game was more difficult - but the All Blacks still won convincingly. The second game was at home - and the All Blacks did play much better - managing to score TWO tries and kicked one concversion and four penalties. In this game their defence was very good, but they themselves were really to an extent struggling a bit up front and there were some really problematic handling errors in the backline.
In the Argentina game - the weather consitions in the first game were a freat leveller - but the All Blacks still won convincingly. The away game was a completely different kettle of fish though and Carter was back. Carter was the Man-of the March in this game and played a major roll in the game plan used. The Argentinians did by all accounts not played well - they allowed the All Black forwards to stand around in the backline and thus created opportunities for a fast passing game with overlaps aplenty. The Argentinians also tried to use a running game - but their ball handling skills let them down and three of the All Black tries came from handling errors by the Argentinians. Be is as it may - that kind of game plan WILL NOT work against the Springboks.
Insofar as the second game against SA is concerned - the scenario is not necessarily so easy. Your claim about penalties are true - but that is not really the issue here. If the All Black experts say the Springboks were better in Dunedin on the day in question - I am not going to argue with them. It was not only the penalties, it was why the penalties was forced onto the All Blacks in the first instance that should be borne in mind. The real problem is the All Black forwards that was under extreme pressure.
However, the statement made by you is that the All Blacks will raise their game by the forwards. They still have the same forward pack - but the Springboks have considerably strenthened their pack by the availability of Etzebeth, Bekker and Oosthuizen - no Greyling this time around. So the question remains in practice - without a change in personnel - how are they going to raise their game and get parity with the Springboks? I think - since the Springboks strengthened their own forward combination - that the issue about parity in the forwards is an unachievable pipe dream. What I said is that the All Blacks can benefit from attacking through the channell - that is the only way the All Blacks can really improved their game - but is it going to work out?
I think there is no dispute about the superirority of the All Black backline - especially with Carter in the mix. I also think that the quality of balls they are going to get will determine how well they function. Cruden was not really up to standard in the Dunedin and Wellington tests and the return of Carter is a major benefit. However, the uncertainty is how the Springboks are going to play - they are definitely not going to play the one-dimensional game associated with Morne Steyn - but neither you nor I know what is going to happen in that case. What is sure us that they are not going to play a running game every time they get the ball - but they will try that occassionally and the All Black defence could be under pressure.
I give the Springboks the edge by a 10+ margin based on the improvements they made to their team combination - not for any other reason. What I did say is if the Aff Black forwards does stand around in the backline - like they did against Argentina - and they did not commit themselves to their key role - it will be disastrous for the All Blacks,
.The only real yardstick that can in fact be used in assessing this game is in fact the Dunedin game. What else can be used? Certainly not theoretical fantasies - I do never use them in assessing patterns in performances - but deal in facts only.