Ross Roche

By Ross Roche

Senior sports writer

Springboks to step up scrum effort against Ireland, says Bongi Mbonambi

The Bok hooker has claimed that Ireland did a good job of ‘spoiling’ the scrums at Loftus last weekend, which allowed them to stop the Boks' dominance at the set piece.

Springbok hooker Bongi Mbonambi says the Boks are targeting an improved performance in the scrum when they battle it out against Ireland in the second Test of the Incoming Series at Kings Park in Durban on Saturday evening.

In the opening Test win in Pretoria over the past weekend the Boks produced a mixed bag at scrum time, with them seeming to struggle to gain ascendancy during the first half and at the start of the second, before the ‘Bomb Squad’ earned a brilliant penalty try from a scrum late in the game.

Spoiling tactics

Mbonambi claimed that Ireland did a good job of ‘spoiling’ the scrums, which allowed them to stop the Boks‘ dominance at the set piece and that they would learn from that ahead of the coming match, while he also sympathised with the injury suffered by his opposite number Dan Sheehan.

“When it comes to the scrums we had quite a good chat yesterday (Monday) with Daan (Human, scrum coach) and the whole pack. We know that in the first half we got a bit frustrated because Ireland were spoiling the scrums, where we just wanted a fair contest,” explained Mbonambi.

“That’s something that we definitely have to learn and train this week so that we can learn our lessons from that game. The bomb squad did an amazing job after they came on and that penalty try was extremely satisfying for everyone. But there is still a lot improvements to be done.

“With the injuries its part of the game, it happens. It is unfortunate for Sheehan, but the other hooker (Ronan) Kelleher is a good scrummager and is more physical, so it definitely doesn’t get any easier.

“They have two top class front rows and just one injury in the pack doesn’t really make much difference. So we are expecting a hard challenge in the scrums. But we will prepare ourselves and hopefully this weekend we will get more reward.”

Breakdown battle

Another aspect that Ireland had the wood over the Boks was at the breakdown, where they put massive pressure on scrumhalf Faf du Plessis, while also stealing a few balls, and Mbonambi said that they were definitely addressing it.

“Obviously with the new laws coming in we know that there will be a lot of pressure at the breakdown, with how the players will be contesting for the ball,” said Mbonambi.

“With (new defence coach) Jerry (Flannery) coming in and working with Duane (Vermeulen), trying to improve our breakdown skills. Also with Jaco Peyper teaching us the laws of when we can counter-ruck, when the ball is out, we are improving.

“We know that the Irish team is definitely going to come harder than they did at Loftus. They obviously pride themselves on shorting the rucks, getting to our nine and slowing down the ball. So it is an area we have to work harder at.”

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