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Once bitten, twice shy – Boks won’t be bossed at the breakdown again

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The Boks haven’t forgotten how England managed to get the better of them on that occasion to claim a 25-10 victory

Maro Itoje of England goes into tackle with Siya Kolisi (left) and Jean Luc du Preez of South Africa (right) during the test match at Newlands Stadium in June 2018. Photo: Gavin Barker/BackpagePix

The Boks are expecting a fierce breakdown battle in this Saturday’s Test against England at Twickenham.

Plenty has happened since the Springboks last took on England in the third and final Test at a rain-drenched Newlands at the end of June.

However, the Boks haven’t forgotten how England managed to get the better of them on that occasion to claim a 25-10 victory.

In conditions that were better suited to England, they bossed the Springboks at the breakdown and prevented the home side from establishing any momentum to their play.

At the post-match press conference in Cape Town, Bok No 8 Duane Vermeulen carried a limp and admitted to being highly frustrated by a result that had undone so much of the good work completed in the two previous wins over England in Johannesburg and Bloemfontein.

Vermeulen missed the Rugby Championship due to his club commitments in Japan, but he has now returned to the Bok setup and suggested that the third and final Test against England had certainly served as a learning curve.

“The weather played a big part in how the game unfolded at Newlands,” Vermeulen told reporters in London. “England are used to playing in those conditions and they made things very hard for us.

“They put us under a lot of pressure at the breakdown. Our exits weren’t great. That’s some of the stuff we’ve worked on. If you don’t win your set piece, you’re going to struggle. That’s definitely an area that let us down in Cape Town.”

The good news for the Boks is that there is no rain predicted for London on Saturday, and the conditions should be better suited to the high-tempo game that South Africa enforced so well in the Rugby Championship.

One of the Springboks’ primary breakdown exponents, Malcolm Marx, will also continue in the No 2 jersey after missing the June series due to injury.

“England are looking to disrupt your breakdown and your set piece,” Marx commented on Tuesday. “They don’t allow you to get out of your half. I didn’t play against them in June, but I watched closely and I’ve done a lot of analysis on them since.”

– African News Agency (ANA)