Springbok captain Fourie du Preez is hoping his side makes a fast start against the USA in their final World Cup Pool B clash at the Olympic Stadium on Wednesday to avoid a nervy final quarter.
The Boks have only had a four-day turnaround between matches and coach Heyneke Meyer has selected 13 of the same players that started Saturday’s 34-16 win over Scotland in Newcastle. There are some tired and sore bodies going into the clash.
A fast start and a healthy lead by halftime would be ideal‚ to avoid the possibility of being dragged into a dogfight with depleted energy reserves. Du Preez is aware of the situation.
“In any game a good start is important‚ but especially in this game‚” Du Preez said.
“If we don’t get the start we want we will have to adapt. We were under pressure at a stage against Scotland and we came back well and pulled through.
“If the same happens against the USA we will have to be up for it and if the bench has to come on and win the game‚ then it has to happen.
“Obviously we’d like it to be comfortable by halftime but if we have to play until the 81st minute to win the game then we will.”
The USA have made 12 changes to their team that lost to Scotland in their last outing‚ suggesting that they are focusing on their final Pool match against Japan on Sunday for a victory.
But even so‚ the Boks have been impressed by the USA and won’t be lulled into a false sense of superiority and complacency as they were against Japan in week one when they fell to a 34-32 defeat.
“I can’t comment on their team selection but we won’t be taking any side lightly‚” Du Preez said.
“We have been under immense pressure since losing to Japan‚ but nothing has changed because if we lose against the USA we’re out of the World Cup. The pressure is still there.
“We’re still in desperation mode and only once the job is done against the USA can we relax for a couple of days before carrying on.”
Attack coach Johan van Graan added: “I’ve been impressed by the USA’s defence. They rush up fast off the line‚ which poses different challenges. If you look at what they’ve done in the RWC they have defended well‚ but we have to adapt to it.
“A week in rugby is a long time and you have to adapt to new challenges all the time. After losing in the first round it became even simpler for us — we have to win every game to get into the quarterfinals.
“Against the USA‚ we have to win by one point or more to reach the last eight — that’s the situation we face.”
Although the Boks have shown a steep improvement in their play since defeat to Japan they are still in search of perfection. And with a virtual full strength team taking the field on Wednesday‚ they will have the chance to continue to grow.
“We have to improve in all areas of our game‚” Van Graan said. “We won’t look back to last week‚ but rather focus on our processes and execution looking forward.
“We had 100% lineout against Japan and Samoa and only lost one against Scotland while we had a freekick against us for another‚ and never had the chance to throw the ball in.
“To lose one lineout in three games is one too many and we will try and improve on that.”
15 Willie le Roux‚ 14 Bryan Habana‚ 13 Jesse Kriel‚ 12 Damian de Allende‚ 11 Lwazi Mvovo‚ 10 Handré Pollard‚ 9 Fourie du Preez (c)‚ 8 Duane Vermeulen‚ 7 Schalk Burger‚ 6 Francois Louw‚ 5 Lood de Jager‚ 4 Eben Etzebeth‚ 3 Frans Malherbe‚ 2 Bismarck du Plessis‚ 1 Beast Mtawarira.
Reserves: 16 Schalk Brits‚ 17 Trevor Nyakane‚ 18 Coenie Oosthuizen‚ 19 Pieter-Steph du Toit‚ 20 Willem Alberts‚ 21 Rudy Paige‚ 22 Morné Steyn‚ 23 Jan Serfontein.
15 Blaine Scully‚ 14 Brett Thompson‚ 13 Folau Niua‚ 12 Andrew Suniula‚ 11 Zach Test‚ 10 Shalom Suniula‚ 9 Niku Kruger‚ 8 Samu Manoa (c)‚ 7 John Quill‚ 6 Danny Barrett‚ 5 Matthew Trouville‚ 4 Louis Stanfill‚ 3 Chris Baumann‚ 2 Phil Thiel‚ 1 Oli Kilifi.
Reserves: 16 Joe Taufetee‚ 17 Zach Fenoglio‚ 18 Mate Moeakiola‚ 19 Titi Lamositele‚ 20 Cam Dolan‚ 21 Al McFarland‚ 22 Mike Petri‚ 23 Chris Wyles.
RDM News Wire.