Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 31 July 2014

Springboks have the tools to halt Wallabies charge

Gary Gold believes an eagerly-awaited breakdown battle could prove the "defining factor" of tomorrow's World Cup quarter-final between South Africa and Australia.

Springboks openside flanker Heinrich Brussow and Australia's David Pocock are set to go head to head in a clash that should go some way towards deciding which country meets New Zealand or Argentina at the semi-final stage next weekend.

"The breakdown will probably be the defining factor of the game this weekend for both teams, on attack and defence," South Africa assistant coach Gold said.

"The guys who master the breakdown the best and adhere to the referee's interpretations the best, are probably going to be in the best position to win this game.

"For those players it is such a fine line between being a genius or breaking the law."

South Africa are bidding to become the first back-to-back world champions following their success at England's expense in Paris four years ago.

And they are viewed as the team most likely to halt red-hot tournament favourites New Zealand in their tracks.

"To be honest, in the back of our minds it is something we would like to achieve, but it is not something that is spoken about on a daily basis," Gold added.

"Sure, it's a motivation at the back of the minds to be successful, but it doesn't affect us too much.

"The players are quite calm at the moment. The training sessions have gone well this week and the enormity of the situation is certainly something we are aware of.

"Ever since we went into camp in Johannesburg, we spoke about the responsibility that all of us have got to everyone back home.

"We know the strength of the support back home and it is something that is very important to us."

Australia beat South Africa twice en-route to winning the Tri-Nations title earlier this year, and Gold has no doubt they will pose the Springboks a severe examination.

"I think the Australians were a very good team, obviously, in the Tri-Nations, and they haven't got any worse, let's put it that way," he said. "The core of the team at the moment, having had so much success for such a long period of time, to slip up against a team as good as Ireland hasn't really affected them and they are still in the quarter-final.

"The Australian team can live, physically, with the best at the moment. They are a very young and athletic side and they have exciting backs that will move you around the park.

"And they have forwards that can keep up, so they are a dangerous team. We've worked hard on them and we will give them the respect they deserve this weekend.

"But from our point of view we have our strengths as well, and it is important we concentrate on what our strengths are."

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