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Third Test: South Africa v Ireland Preview
South Africa will be looking to win their June series with Ireland in Port Elizabeth this Saturday.
The hosts may have restored some pride last week but nothing short of a series victory will appease an underwhelmed South African rugby public.
South Africa v Ireland | Saturday 25 June | Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium | 17:00
To Win (80 Mins)
South Africa 3/10 | Draw 22/1 | Ireland 5/2
South Africa (-8.5) 9/10 | Ireland (+8.5) 9/10
The Springboks produced a second-half performance last week that rivaled even the great Tri-Nations comeback victory over New Zealand back in 1998.
Having gone into the half-time break 16 points down and staring down the barrel of only their second ever home loss to Ireland, the ‘Boks pulled up their socks and finally produced the rugby that the whole of South Africa had been hoping to see.
While every single player who took to the field after Allister Coetzee had made some extremely necessary half-time substitutions can be proud of their performance, there were two men who stood out.
Winger Ruan Combrink, who had come on for a struggling Lwazi Mvovo, was the spark that ignited the Springboks' turn around. The Lions man didn’t just show a clean set of heels, he illustrated what playing for your country is all about with his post-try celebration.
To see the joy he took in scoring on debut really warmed the heart. And to see how determined he was whilst making his way around, through, and over Irish defenders on his way to the try line was awe-inspiring. His bulldozing run and brilliant finish was the catalyst for the ‘Boks eventually running out 32-26.
Another Lions man who impressed last week was the dexterous Warren Whiteley. The lanky loose forward also got his name on the try score sheet but it was his cool head and leadership skills that were most vital to South Africa’s cause.
Both Whiteley and Combrink have been rewarded for their stellar second half showings with starting berths for the final Test. The duo will be joined in the matchday 23 by fellow Lion Jaco Kriel who will undoubtedly make an impact off the bench.
Things looked rather rosy for the men from the Emerald Isle during the first 40-minutes of last week’s Test. They were once again destroying the ‘Boks at the breakdown and they were also dominating the aerial duels. They had taken a huge lead into the half-time break and looked almost assured of a first ever series win in South Africa before the ‘Boks decided to bring their A-game.
I don’t really think the Irish were to blame for last week’s defeat. It was more a case of the South Africans rocking up rather than Joe Schmidt’s men going to sleep. While they could have probably kept the ball in hand a bit more during the second stanza, you can’t fault them for implementing an aerial bombardment as it had reaped great dividends in the first Test and for the first forty minutes of the second.
I do think the Irish will have learnt a lot from that second half. I expect they’ll look to run the ball a lot more this week and they probably won’t commit as many numbers to the breakdown as they did during the second half at Emirates Airline Park. They will also now know that a close eye needs to be kept on Ruan Combrink as he is devastating when given the slightest bit of space.
In terms of team news for this one, Joe Schmidt has opted to make a few changes with CJ Stander making a return to the starting XV after serving his one-week ban for a dangerous tackle on Patrick Lambie. There is also a switch at fullback with Tiernan O’Halloran coming in for the injured Jarryd Payne. He will be joined by Andrew Trimble and Keith Earls in the back three.
Verdict: South Africa (-8.5) 9/10
I feel that the introduction of Warren Whitely and Ruan Combrink to the starting XV will inspire the ‘Boks to a massive victory. Get on the hosts to clear the handicap at 9/10.