Key Clash Preview: South Africa v England – 2nd Test

Date: 16th June 2012
Kickoff: 16:00
Referee: Alain Rolland
Venue: Ellis Park, Johannesburg

South Africa:

When there is not enough time to put plans into place, brute force is a worthy substitute. The Boks might have only had five days to prepare last weekend with a series of new faces, but their physicality against England was on another level even for the likes of Chris Robshaw, Mouritz Botha and Dylan Hartley. They will have benefited from an extra week in camp immensely, perfecting their set-piece and combinations for the 2nd Test at altitude.

Indeed, playing where the air is sparse means that the Boks should up the tempo from their standard kick-chase pattern, hammering harder through the back row along with the work of Jean de Villiers and Frans Steyn in midfield. Durban might have been a winning start to a brand new era but a great side does not concede tries in the 79th minute, regardless of the scoreline. Joburg could be where the Boks kick on.


Brave? Yes. Bold? Undoubtedly. But England were second best in Durban in a game where they had to take advantage of their hosts minimal preparations and failed. Their speed and enthusiasm at the breakdown early on showed that they were up to the task, but the more the Springboks gelled England found it tougher to cope with their physicality around the fringes.

The 3rd quarter in particular had England persistently trying to knock back Springbok tacklers for an insane amount of time until gaps inevitably opened and bodies crumpled. Finding enough air to maintain a high level of intensity in Johannesburg will be their main challenge, along with trying to unlock what proved to be a stubborn South African defence bar Ben Foden’s moment at the end. It will not get any easier.

What to Expect:

England to play with a touch more verve going forward. Brad Barritt’s nasty eye injury has forced Stuart Lancaster to select a new centre pairing in Manu Tuilagi and Jonathan Joseph. Moving the Samoan born Leicester Tiger infield gives England more power off first phase, with the hope that his explosiveness will create enough space for Joseph and the back three to exploit.

That is, if they get possession. The Boks will be sharper at the breakdown than they were last week, so expect a greater physical battle in that area especially. Both sides lack a specialist fetcher in the David Pocock mould which is a blow because this game is tailor made for a player with that ability. Morné Steyn wasn’t perfect with his boot last week and the Boks still won. Individual performances are everything.

Head to Head: Jean de Villiers & Jonathan Joseph

South Africa’s captain was in outstanding form last weekend, rising to the occasion of guiding his new caps through their first 80 minutes of international rugby along with scoring what proved to be the all-important try in the second half. For subtle hands and vision for a gap, there are few better in world rugby.

Joseph has 3 minutes of Test action under his belt compared to de Villiers’ 73 caps, but the young back from London Irish has promise. England have been searching for the kind of raw pace and side step that he has in his locker for a while now. At 21, there is no limit to his future on the international scene, but Saturday will be his biggest test so far.

Ones to Watch: Juandré Kruger & Toby Flood

Kruger left quite the impression on the Aviva Premiership during his stint here a few years back, enough that his departure was bemoaned by Northampton fans when he decided to return to the Bulls and become a South African international. As you’d expect from a lock based in Pretoria, he is an outstanding presence in the lineout and scrum, with hands able to create plenty of opportunities.

Flood’s return has come at the expense of young Owen Farrell due to England not creating enough. Therefore if Flood fails, he can probably expect the same short thrift from critics if England are not firing on all cylinders, especially given their increased firepower in midfield. He has the experience to perform in these matches, and England need him badly to show it.


Last Saturday’s defeat in Durban was originally perceived as England’s best chance for a win, but the truth is a defeat in the 2nd Test could make the final match in Port Elizabeth the main opportunity. Because in Johannesburg, at altitude, their chances are slim. South Africa by 8

by Ben Coles

14 thoughts on “Key Clash Preview: South Africa v England – 2nd Test

  1. South Africa by at least 16. Tuilagi to be stretchered of after trying to tackle all 120 kg’s of Willem Alberts… Good Luck rooinekke you will need it!!!

    1. go back and watch the part of the first test where he tackled spies, 3 rucks later he smashed alberts causing a turnover? you sure alberts is going to run over tuilagi?

  2. Can someone explain how it is that England are always described as “arrogant” when we constantly get comments like the one above about how many points they will put on us!!

    To be honest I think it will take a miracle to win and to keep the scores as close as Ben suggests would be impressive in itself. Excited to see this new centre combination. Tuilagi took no prisioners last week and for England to have any kind of a chance we need to burst out of the blocks and get (and stay) ahead for as long as possible and hope the adrenalin can sustain us through the second half onslaught. If the Boks get ahead early it will be a long afternoon especially if heads drop.

    1. Totally agree. We’re stuck with this “arrogant” label, seemingly from the Will Carling era, and yet – for instance – the England Rugby and Bath Rugby Facebook pages keep getting hijacked by trolling South Africa supporters who keep saying how they’re going to smash us. Funny old world.

  3. Not unless the entire SA team have been tackling ford transits to get ready for manu. De villiers may want to wear some padding in the back of his shorts for when manu puts him on his arse again.

  4. Well they’re up front about it.South Africans love their rugby and are as excited about this as we are,so stop being precious and let the players explain it on the day.At least they don’t expect us to gush to the haka…

    1. Thought i would pop in to see what the English are thinking before the game tomorrow, i must say im very surprised with the lack of comments, is this a blog? hahaha couldn’t help having a little dig. have a look

      Interesting thoughts nonetheless, are all the supporters as astute as James? i hope not.

      South Africa to beat up the Pom’s. Goodluck

  5. Nice review, bit of bias and a few one sided views (as a fellow patriot i dont expect anything less, respect) otherwise fairly accurate. Could get ugly tomorrow. A bit of insight on our coach for all those who love rugby, Heyneke Meyer is considered to be the SAF of South African Rugby possessing a prodigious rugby mind. In South Africa Rugby is a religion.Its brutal, all about the collisions.We not the most flashy team in the world but we are the most physical.We play with a complete reckless abandon for our bodies. Only New Zealand understand this and at times they have no answer to the sheer level of physicality. Heyneke Meyer understands this and has no care for political interference ,few coaches before him have including Jake White. It took Eddie Jones for him to see this.

    No, im not boasting just thought i’d give you people (all 9 of you) an idea of what rugby is about In the Republic I hope England can learn from this experience and improve because as South Africans there are few sweeter experiences than knocking England over and over again. Goodluck and cheers to the birth of a dynasty! Bokke!!!!

    1. I’m going to call you out and say that you’re not the most physical team, you have a bit more class than the team I’m thinking of, but who was the team who really out-powered you at the world cup? I’ll let you think about it, but don’t be too happy with your physicality too soon.

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