SEE FINAL RESULT AND REVIEW HERE
Let’s start with who I want to win. I can’t declare any love of the Boks. But when it comes to this Saturday, as an Australian living in England through the last World Cup and Ashes glitch, under no circumstances do I want the Poms win. Also, while England should be allowed to play their ugly but effective brand of rugby, and even respected for their mastery of it, that doesn’t mean you have to like watching it. Viva running rugby, where backs know what to do with a ball.
Anyway, I don’t hold grudges, to me ‘a grudge is just a place where I pawk mah caw’.
However, who do I think will win on Saturday? That’s a different question. Despite the typical over confidence spewing out of South Africa, Saturday’s result is not nearly so certain as they’d like you to believe. Why?
First of all, forget the 36-0 drubbing the Poms got in the pool stage. They were down on confidence, were still finding their A team through random selection and missing 90% of their point scoring and talisman; Goldenballs Wilkinson. It was also still group stage rugby, and they’d got sucked into forgetting how they win games. None of this will apply on Saturday.
Next, forget the ultimate scorelines that the boks ended up with in their last two games. In both cases they went AWOL for large periods of the match.
In the Fiji game they ground out a win through a more dominant pack. That wont happen on Saturday. If you think through a world cup 15, the Poms have probably got at least 4 or 5 names in the scrum. The Boks have maybe got 2 and have been noticeably beaten in the scrum both by Argentina last week (see pic below), and England in the aforementioned routing. On Saturday they will hit a brick wall.
Against Argentina, South Africa drew level at best in terms of territory and possession, but survived and eventually feasted off Puma mistakes that they finished with style. In their last two games, England have rediscovered what wins world cups – cutting out mistakes. This will ultimately be the decider of the 2007 Rugby World Cup Final.
And finally there’s the psychology. It started genuinely, but the English have reveled in their self-proclaimed underdog status, milking every last drop. Obligingly the Saffas have played right along. On the box up here Martin Johnson spelled out why this is so dangerous for the Boks; there will be a bunch of them going into this game thinking they’re 36 points up, when in reality it’s 0-0. This could cost them 20 minutes of switched on game time, which alone could cost a match.
However, just when it sounds cut and dried to the poms, the South Africans have a potential game breaker. It isn’t the human cheetah Habana, or the world’s best 9 Du Preez, but Percy ‘highlights’ Montgomery and Franz ‘the freak’ Stein’s goal kicking. This is finals rugby after all; Percy slotted 7/8 last weekend and us Aussie’s know what freak-boy can do from the touch-line 55 meters out. Johnny, on the other hand, has been having a shocker by his usual standards.
So you can see I think it’ll be close. But if I had to put money on it (which I think I might to give me that no-lose frame of mind) it’d be with the Poms by less than 3. Dammit.
Anyone got Suzie’s phone number?