The prospect of facing an inexperienced Australia pack has given South Africa's giant forwards renewed confidenceas they attempt to win the Tri Nations tomorrow.
Matfield expects power pack to get things right
SYDNEY // The prospect of facing an inexperienced Australia pack has given South Africa's giant forwards renewed confidence they can settle their scrum problems as they attempt to win the Tri Nations tomorrow. Despite boasting one of the biggest packs in world rugby, the Springbok scrum has struggled for consistency this season and often incurred the wrath of referees.
Their attempts to ruffle their opponents with a massive hit at the point of engagement has met with mixed success and last week they were penalised during their win over the Australians in Perth. The Springboks lodged a complaint with the International Rugby Board about the performance of New Zealand referee Bryce Lawrence but it fell on deaf ears so they have spent the past week ironing out their own problems.
"It's very technical, some days you get it right," lock Victor Matfield said. "We just look back a few weeks against the British and Irish Lions where one week we dominated and the next week they dominated." The South Africa assistant coach Dick Muir was confident they had worked out the issues and would not have any problems in Brisbane. The Wallabies have made wholesale changes to their pack and Muir hopes to exploit that with English referee Wayne Barnes in charge this time. "It's something that we have worked on this week to be better in the scrums on Saturday," Muir said.
"We're very confident that it is an area he [Barnes] will manage very carefully. He would have done his homework and he would realise the strength of the South African pack." While the South African scrum has struggled at times this season, there has been no such problems with the line-out. Matfield said the Springboks planned to target the new Wallabies, who will have just four line-out jumpers this week after backrower Richard Brown was dumped for David Pocock.
"Hopefully we can put them under pressure and that can be a good area for us," Matfield said. "We believe they will go with shorter line-outs that will help them with their jumpers." Despite four successive defeats and at the bottom of the table, Australia said they are still in the early stages of an ambitious rebuilding programme they hope will lead to World Cup victory in 2011. "I got a great feel for the team and where it's at," lock Mark Chisholm said. "On the field, I felt the team is just inches away from firstly winning and secondly becoming something great.
"We're certainly heading in that direction and it's only a matter of time before we achieve those steps to get there. I can sense it." Three of Australia's losses have been by a converted try or less and they were beaten 32-25 by the Springboks in Perth last weekend after finishing strongly to score two late tries. "Running around the field, I found we're the fittest side out there," Chisholm said. "It's just minor adjustments in the first 20 minutes that we're capable of that will give us a win.
"If the match is in the balance then mentally and physically we can get over the top." Meanwhile, New Zealand added three more players for their final two matches. Flanker Adam Thomson, lock Tom Donnelly and utility back Colin Slade joined the squad to provide extra cover for unexpected injuries. * Reuters