The Springboks played their first test in almost two whole years against Georgia last weekend. We expected the rugby to be a bit rusty and loose and that is just what we saw. A tight game in the opening minutes saw Georgia on the scoreboard first. I won't lie, I was panicking big time. All I could think about was the Springboks under Peter de Villiers, scoring the odd penalty and chocking massively in the important moments. I could see the newspaper headlines in my head "Georgia Delete Boks", so naturally I watched with one eye open!
To much relief we saw the Boks pull away in the second half and ultimately we ended 40-9, Georgia facing 6 unanswered Springbok tries.
“Their driven lineout and strong individual running wasn’t something unexpected from us to watch. They will definitely improve next week with the combinations and being back together, and the South African coaches, like us, will be looking to improve week to week,” said Gatland.
The British & Irish Lions are scheduled to take on the Sharks this Wednesday (07.07.2021) whilst the Springboks prepare for another Georgian encounter on Friday. The British & Irish Lions are also scheduled to play against the Bulls, Stormers and South Africa "A" before the Lions take on the Springboks later on this month. We are all anticipating it to be as intense as the 1997 and 2009 series were.
“I hope so. We haven’t come here to make up the numbers even though there are a few journalists writing us off and saying we are going to get hammered. Hopefully, if we keep improving, we have got some players who have had a lot of experience and players who have had success against South Africa in recent years and some disappointments too. It makes it really exciting because I know how motivated this group to put on the jersey and compete for a Test spot. That makes the coaches’ job so much easier. We are very motivated to leave South Africa with a Test victory," said the Lions Boss.
The Lions have taken much criticism since they announced their test squad a few weeks ago but we cant just write them off so easily. It's the easiest thing to be arrogant about your side being World Champions because along with the title, comes the pressure to produce big and important wins. The Lions Series is not going to be a walk over as some say. They have brought the best players the Northern Hemisphere has to offer with some Japanese exceptions. It is going to be a battle every Saturday and this series is going to be a War in South Africa. Our nation is so extremely proud and we expect a lot from the Green and Gold. Lets see where we get against the Lions. I have said all along 2-1 to SA.
Gatland is starting three debutants against the Sharks on Wednesday, the rookies being Tom Curry, Josh Navidi and Adam Beard. Ireland lock, Iain Henderson will captain the Lions for the first time whilst Tour Captain, Connor Murray has been named on the bench. This test will be the second of eight tour matches.
Four tries from Josh Adams and a man of the match performance from Hamish Watson were the highlights for Warren Gatland's men against opposition who were outmatched in almost all departments. Watson and Adams are definitely two men who the Springboks will be analyzing over the weeks, amongst other forwards.
"Watson couldn't have had a better first game" - Sam Warburton
Are there any major concerns when it comes to the Springboks playing style where the Lions could capitalize? Yes. In my honest opinion it will be the backs that let us down, only because we have such a strong unit in the forward pack that it doesn't make sense to say the forwards will let us down in the scrum or at lineout time, its just not happening. So handling and discipline in the back line is what my weakness for the Boks will be. Other Punt-It's may not agree but those are my thoughts. Concerns for the Lions? They will 100% be the fact that there are eight very strong, very heavy South African's running full pace at them for what will feel like months at a time. The forward pack is not as experienced and as prepared as they should be. Especially after seeing the Japan/ Lions Test match. The South African's are just naturally more physical than the Tourists. Is there going to be a riot because I've said this? What are your thoughts on the strengths and weaknesses of the Lions and Boks?
B & I Lions XV to face Sharks on Wednesday:
15 Liam Williams
14 Anthony Watson
13 Elliot Daly
12 Bundee Aki
11 Duhan van der Merwe
10 Dan Biggar
9 Gareth Davies
8 Sam Simmonds
7 Tom Curry
6 Josh Navidi
5 Adam Beard
4 Iain Henderson (captain)
3 Zander Fagerson
2 Luke Cowan-Dickie
1 Mako Vunipola
16 Ken Owens
17 Rory Sutherland
18 Tadhg Furlong
19 Tadhg Beirne
20 Jack Conan
21 Connor Murray
22 Stuart Hogg
23 Chris Harris
Date: Wednesday, July 7 Venue: Ellis Park, Johannesburg Kick-off: 19.00 (18.00 BST; 17.00 GMT) Referee: Jaco Peyper (South Africa) Assistant referees: Wayne Barnes (England), AJ Jacobs (South Africa) TMO: Marius van der Westhuizen (South Africa