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South Africa must improve on perfection to combat Wales’s lineout – Vermeulen

The Springboks boast a flawless lineout across the Rugby World Cup.

South Africa and Japan in action at Tokyo Stadium (Adam Davey/PA)
South Africa and Japan in action at Tokyo Stadium (Adam Davey/PA)

By Nick Purewal, PA, Tokyo

Duane Vermeulen believes South Africa have to find a way to improve on perfection to combat Wales’s “talisman” Alun Wyn Jones’ lineout threat.

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South Africa thumped hosts Japan 26-3 on Sunday night to book their World Cup semi-final with Wales, and the Springboks boast a flawless lineout across the whole tournament.

Rassie Erasmus’s men have won 57 of 57 lineouts in Japan, one of which on Sunday led to the driving maul that sparked Faf De Klerk’s smart try.

Now the Springboks will face Wales for a place in their first World Cup final since 2007, and number eight Vermeulen expects a stern set-piece examination from Warren Gatland’s side.

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Wales’s Liam Williams evades the tackle of France’s Damian Penaud (Ashley Western/PA)

Accomplished lock Jones boasts 132 Wales caps and nine for the British and Irish Lions, and Vermeulen admitted South Africa must raise their level for their last-four clash.

“I must say the guys who run the lineouts are making great calls,” said Vermeulen.

“They put in a lot of work during the week and execution is key for us.

“It’s nice to walk away with 100 per cent execution, we’re really happy with that.

“But we need to build on that. We’ll have to step up again there against Wales.

“Alun Wyn Jones knows the lineout inside-out, he’s really experienced, he’s got 120-odd caps for Wales.

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Japan’s Pieter Labuschagne (right) is tackled by South Africa’s Duane Vermeulen (Adam Davey/PA)

“He’s their talisman when it comes to lineouts so we’ve got some things to work on and hopefully we can keep on working on our execution and maintain that record.”

Japan dominated possession in a pulsating first-half against the Springboks in Tokyo on Sunday, but Jamie Joseph’s Brave Blossoms were unable to force a try breakthrough.

South Africa’s gritty defence shut down the tournament hosts, before head coach Erasmus’ men pulled away after the break.

Captain Siya Kolisi and back-rower Vermeulen told the Springboks at half-time to stay calm and trust their game plan.

I felt we really defended well too Duane Vermeulen

Boss Erasmus was pleased with how his senior players had calmed the team’s nerves at the interval, and Vermeulen said the break to reassess had helped steer the Springboks through.

“It was pretty tough. I must say Japan gave us all the shots and we had to defend for quite some time,” said Vermeulen.

“To be one man down it’s really difficult, they played extremely well. But I felt we really defended well too.

“It was a really, really good game, but also a great spectacle to watch.

“I think it was a bit of tension going in at half-time only 5-3 up. It was a really tight game, especially the first-half.

“Some of the guys were a bit on edge when we went into the locker room at half-time, but I just tried to tell the guys just to stay focused on the job in hand.

“And I think the second-half we executed pretty well.”

PA

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