bok day of reckoning

NEEDING only one log point to win the 2009 Tri-Nations, the Springboks play their final match of the series tomorrow against New Zealand's All Blacks, who themselves will be desperate for a win and a bonus point to keep themselves in the running.

NEEDING only one log point to win the 2009 Tri-Nations, the Springboks play their final match of the series tomorrow against New Zealand's All Blacks, who themselves will be desperate for a win and a bonus point to keep themselves in the running.

Tomorrow's Test takes place in the city of Hamilton, which has a tense history in rugby terms.

Springbok coach Peter de Villiers defended his team's late arrival in the small town, describing Hamilton as "boring", but that certainly was not the case 28 years ago.

In 1981, the Boks toured New Zealand in the face of massive anti-apartheid protests and international condemnation. In the second game of the tour the Boks were scheduled to play Waikato Province, a team based in Hamilton, but tensions ignited when protesters stormed on to Waikato Stadium's field, preventing the game from starting.

Violence escalated between protesters and rugby supporters, and the game was called off.

While the political tension between the two sides is over, there is still more than enough rugby tension, with the International Rugby Board world number one ranking once more at stake. As should be expected, the All Blacks have indicated their desire to target the Bok scrum, stopping the Boks from gaining forward momentum.

John Smit struggled against the shorter Benn Robinson last week. Against All Black loosehead Tony Woodcock, who has no such height advantage , Smit has fared far better this season, and so his side of the scrum should be more solid.

On the other side of the scrum Beast Mtawarira will scrum against promising rookie tighthead Owen Franks, and must bring to bear the kind of pressure that he exerted on British and Irish Lions tighthead Phil Vickery back in June.

The only change to the Bok starting line-up sees Frans Steyn back in at fullback, replacing Ruan Pienaar, who was indifferent in the position last week. This indicates a return to the more controlled kicking game that served the Boks well in their first few Tri-Nations games.

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