June International Tours

England ‘promise’ more scrum trouble for Boks

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Springbok captain John Smit complained of “illegal” English tactics at scrum-time in the first test in Bloemfontein last week, but the visitors have “promised” to make life even more unpleasant in the return international in Pretoria this coming Saturday.

England’s forward coach John Wells obviously disagreed with Smit’s assertion that his team’s tactics were illegal.

He simply put it down to “experience”.

However, he made it clear England will work harder this week at establishing some kind of dominance in the set pieces when the teams go head-to-head at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday.

“We’ve got a lot of respect for how good the South Africans are in the set pieces, but I felt [in Bloemfontein last Saturday] that went reasonably well [for England],” Wells said, adding that the key is again to see how they can “wrestle” some ball off the Boks.

“There’s no doubt that the Boks this week would have had more time to prepare their set pieces.

“I’ve read that they’re going to make that a primary target in training.

“We’ve also got to work on our delivery from set pieces and make sure we’re a little better on what we managed to get back last week and that will be a good start.”

He defended his team’s tactics at scrum time, which saw this particular set piece becoming a real mess – with constant collapsing and resets.

“We had a pretty experienced front row out at the weekend and those guys have been around a little bit,” Wells said.

“I think it probably is a case that both sides wanted to gain some advantage and I think England in the past have been very poor at standing toe-to-toe with the opposition at scrum time. In my opinion it is fair credit to the England guys for doing well in the scrums this [past] weekend.”

The England forward coach said the Springboks may just have the balance – between brute power and technique – right in their scrums.

“No doubt, having seen the Super 14 Final, the Sharks front row – which they picked as a unit – technically and strength wise were superior to the Bulls front row. And throughout the Super 14 competition that Sharks front row has been putting teams under pressure and there’s now doubt they also have a massive amount of weight in their back five in the pack.

“So, technically, if they’re comfortable in the front row and with all that weight behind them, the combination of the two is quite awesome.

“Perhaps the Boks didn’t get the opportunity to put everything together last week for training reasons, just like we were hit with one or two reasons.”

He said they expected everything the Boks “threw” at them in the set pieces and that it is important how they deal with it again this week.

“There were some things we dealt with okay and some things we weren’t capable of dealing with particularly well.

“Part of what we do this week, on the training pitch and off the training pitch, is trying to improve those areas, so that we can give better ball and perform in the areas we felt we were below par.

“We talked as a group about the delivery of the ball from set pieces and I thought our scrum delivery was pretty good.

“However, there was a couple of line-outs were the ball was flashed at and tapped. Whilst we won the ball, it didn’t give us good ball to launch anything from. But I also think the way we defend as forwards need to be worked upon – that is very much about us getting those guys into the right positions.”

By Jan de Koning 365 Digital

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