Rassie Erasmus’ Springboks will be under enormous pressure to get their three-Test series against England off to a winning start on Saturday, Shaun Goosen reports.
South Africa v England
9 June 17h00
Emirates Airline Park, Johannesburg
To Win (80 Mins)
SA 9/10 (-3.5)
England 9/10 (+3.5)
Following their unconvincing defeat against Wales in Washington DC, all eyes will be on the type of performance the Boks can deliver in Johannesburg on Saturday, 9 June.
Last week’s Test in America was lost in the last moments of the match. The team was a combination of debutants that made up a ‘Bok second XV’, that coupled with a few days to prepare meant the team was always going to struggle in the wet conditions against the Welsh.
However, Saturday’s clash with England is the real deal and another lacklustre performance will heap even more stress onto Rassie Erasmus in his second Test in charge.
This week’s new-look Bok side has a good mix of youth and experience and is expected to put in a much better all-round showing. However, it must be noted that the untried combinations that the Bok coaching staff has opted for will need more time to gel. How and when they do will have direct ramifications on the result of the Test match.
The expected inclusion of Montpellier duo Bismarck du Plessis and Frans Steyn has been dealt a blow after the pair suffered injuries that will rule them out of the whole Test series against England. After their respective European team, Montpellier were denied Top 14 glory by Castres in the final. But for now, it will be up to the likes of skipper Siya Kolisi, Beast Mtawarira, Duane Vermeulen and Willie le Roux to set the standard.
RG Snyman, Sbu Nkosi, and Aphiwe Dyantyi will all earn their Bok debuts, while Lukhanyo Am gets a first Test start. After solid Super Rugby performances thus far, Erasmus will expect them to stand up and prove why they should be backed to represent the Boks in the build-up to the next Rugby World Cup in Japan.
They will have a tough task on their hands, though, in the form of an England side under huge scrutiny following their dismal showing in the 2018 Six Nations. Eddie Jones’ men finished fifth after just two wins, and they will be eager to return to winning ways to claim what would be their first win on Ellis Park soil since 1972.
With many first-choice players out, Jones has picked a squad consisting of seven uncapped players – including Hurricanes captain Brad Shields. In an attempt to create depth and field players with all the necessary attributes to strengthen some of England’s weaker areas.
With bright conditions expected, the outcome is set to be decided by the side that best executes their game plan. Both teams may be rusty after their recent lack of game time and the maximizing of chances will be open to any team for the taking.
Verdict: England 27/20
Both sides have plenty to prove, but the English have more settled combinations and that should make all the difference on Saturday. They will use their superior knowledge and experience to take a win of between seven and 10-points. Back England on the board.
Written by Shaun Goosen for Hollywoodbets