While the world champion All Blacks eased past Argentina 39-18 in their tournament opener over the weekend, the Springboks lost 24-20 in Australia after conceding a try during the final play of the game.
It means Saturday’s clash is a must-win for the Boks in this year’s shortened Championship and New Zealand number eight Kieran Read said this would make for an intense contest.
“I think they will come at us up front,” Read told reporters on Tuesday. “They’ve got a pretty strong scrum and lineout. But they will also look to counterattack.
“I know last year in this fixture, their boys are pretty quick at the back, and they played really well and made a lot of breaks. So they will want to continue to do that. We do have to take another step up. It’s a different test, especially coming over to South Africa. We know the challenge they present and they will be hurting after last week.”
South Africa won 27-25 in this fixture in October, a titanic battle in which the home side made a fast start but then had to hang on grimly as the All Blacks piled on the pressure in the closing stages.
It was a first defeat in two years for the All Blacks and Read said that memory still lingers.
“It’s different to anything in New Zealand, playing in South Africa you have passionate fans and it is their home. It’s always a great game and it’s a big test for us.
“The crowd certainly bays for our blood and we certainly want to go out there and play as well as we can.”
Read added that while the immediate aim was to win the Championship, the team needed to keep improving ahead of the World Cup in England starting on September 18, where they are to defend their title.
“We have something to prove and we have to keep improving, we can’t just rest on where we are now.
“We want to go out and win this test match, it’s really important to us. Our performance has to lift and we need to do that throughout the year,” said Read. – Reuters