Twilight at Twickenham

Both sides are desperate to win, and we can expect a tough, gruelling confrontation up front, while the English backs are likely to try and use their speed out wide. The Boks will keep it tight and rely on Lambie to keep them in the opponent’s half of the field.

The five changes to the Springbok starting line-up indicate that the coach is expecting a more physical approach from England. I suspect that these changes are not in reaction to last week’s performance, but was planned before the start of the tour.

Adriaan Strauss impressed me more than Bismarck did in the two previous tests, and deserves to start, while Schalk Burger’s love of confrontation makes him the better choice against the intimidation usually employed by English teams at the start of the match. I was thinking that Bakkies should be there too, but then remembered Etzebeth is also not one who easily turns the other cheek.

The halfback pairing of Lambie and Reinach know each other well, and now the latter gets the opportunity to prove that he is more than just an impact player. JP Pietersen brings more experience and bulk, which is possibly more valuable to the side than the attacking capabilities of Hendricks in this particular match.

Let’s hope that the Boks will show some more variation than last week. If you know that ninety percent of possession won will be given to a loose forward to drive, it becomes fairly simple to defend. During the match, a commentator pointed out that Ireland had the best defence in the Six-Nations last season (which they won), so it is small wonder that they managed to keep us at bay despite having less attacking chances than we did.

We will not have the same amount of possession against England, therefore we need to make better use of the opportunities afforded us. Opting not to kick at goal cost us the match last week – let’s pray that sanity will prevail on Saturday.

The English side will possibly only see one change with the 20-year old Anthony Watson or Marland Yarde replacing Semesa Rokoduguni on the right wing.

Player of the Year

The International Rugby Board announced the shortlist for the World Rugby Player of the Year. Nominees include South Africa’s Willie le Roux and Duane Vermeulen, while All Blacks Brodie Retallick and Julian Savea will also contest, along with Ireland’s Jonathan Sexton.

My money is on Duane, and I even have a bet against my colleague Billy Seyffert, who favours the All Black lock.

If neither wins, we’ll still have a De Akker Burger and beer, with each paying for the other. Heads I win, tails you lose, or is it the other way around?

Fierce Clash on the Cards

The Australians and Proteas resume hostilities tomorrow in Perth, in the first of a 5-match ODI series. Perth is a happy hunting ground for us as we only lost once in 11 matches played at the WACA.

The injury to JP Duminy creates and opportunity for the selectors to play both Rilee Rossouw and David Miller, but it does seriously affect the balance of the side in terms of a spinning option which could see Kyle Abbott missing out on selection as a specialist spinner would need to be considered due to Duminy’s absence.

This will also be the first time Clarke and Steyn will face each other after their little “incident” in March where Clarke’s potty mouth seem to upset Steyn while he was batting in Newlands test.  No doubt Morkel will also be keen to reacquaint himself with the Australian skipper. In the same test, Clarke was left with a fractured shoulder after a bouncer barrage from Morne, who also struck him on the helmet, forearm, ribs, hands and elbow during the fierce spell.

The competition remains fierce between these two sides and there is plenty of needle. If it does live up to the hype, we are in for a crackerjack series that will be talked about long after this series.

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