Thursday 29 September 2016

Coetzee expects Ireland to 'come out firing' in final battle

Published 21/06/2016 | 02:30

South Africa head coach Allister Coetzee. Photo: Sportsfile
South Africa head coach Allister Coetzee. Photo: Sportsfile

Allister Coetzee has a simple philosophy on the game of rugby, and the last 20 minutes at Ellis Park must have been a beautiful sight for sore eyes.

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Rugby, the Springbok coach said yesterday, is "a momentum-based game, it's a gainline game and that's the battle that we have to win".

For 50 minutes in Johannesburg, the former Stormers supremo was facing an appalling vista of a second successive defeat to Ireland and another week of heavy criticism in the press.

Instead, he cheerily sat down in his side's Port Elizabeth hotel, gestured towards the glistening Indian Ocean outside and remarked, "it's some morning, eh?". What a difference a win makes.

On Saturday, Coetzee's team were booed off at half-time and greeted like heroes at the full-time whistle and now look to have the momentum going into the final Test at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium.

Last week, Coetzee commented on Ireland's limited game-plan and he returned to the theme yesterday.

He believes that his side must deal with the tourists' kicking game this weekend and force them to run.

"Look, the Irish have seen that they got a lot of reward from their kicking game and I think they will continue with that," he said.

"For us, it's a matter of handling that and making them play, make them have a go at us.

"It's tough in Test match rugby, sometimes without the ball you're a bit safer. You don't make the mistakes and you wait for the opposition to make mistakes, but I think they'll come out. It's a chance to give it a shot.

"They're a side that can attack and hold on to the ball and I expect the Irish to come firing in all departments: ball in hand, kicking game, solid defence. They will definitely look at improving and stopping our momentum. It's going to be a hell of a battle."

Ireland's kicking game has been a particular focus of Coetzee, who has regularly praised the touring side's half-back pairing of Conor Murray and Paddy Jackson.

"Any Test match is a battle of attrition and that is what we have to prepare ourselves for," he said.

"You don't get easy Tests, so it's got to be an approach whereby we have the patience within our plan and make sure that we have a good set-piece again and patience within the kicking game.

"The Irish have scored tries through some good kicks and making sure that we handle those kicks; our aerial skills should improve and we need to make good decisions.

"When it's on to have a go, we'll have a go but also to make sure that we have some good kicks in return to put pressure back onto them."

South Africa will be without Duane Vermeulen (elbow) and Pat Lambie (concussion), while Warren Whiteley (shoulder) and prop Trevor Nkayane (ankle) both face a race against the clock to be fit for the deciding Test.

Irish Independent

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