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    Four ways Ireland plans to take down South Africa's 'bomber squad'

    South Africa's bench is dominated by strikers. Photo: AP/Christophe Hena

    There was an exciting atmosphere of defiance within the team. Ireland meet on Wednesday and Andy Farrell's side will back themselves to neutralize the Springboks' “bomb squad”. This is despite the world champions' innovative decision to field seven strikers and just one defender for Saturday's World Cup decider.

    South Africa head coach Jacques Nienaber made one change from the team that beat Scotland 18-3 in the World Cup opener, with Bongi Mbonambi replacing the injured Malcolm Marks at hooker, repeating the choice for a 7/1 split on the bench. as he did in the 11th hour of their victory over New Zealand at Twickenham.

    That time, a late injury to defender Willie Le Roux in the World Cup warm-up match saw Nienaber replace him. with back row forward Quagga Smith on the bench.

    Nienaber repeated the high-risk selection strategy for the first time in a World Cup match. Scrum-half Kobus Reinach, who can also play on the wing, is the only defender named after the game.

    But Ireland coach John Fogarty insisted it would not affect their selection or playing strategy, and has backed his team to deal with the physical challenges early.

    Telegraph Sport looks at four key areas where Ireland hope to negate the ferocity of the impending attack coming their way.

    Steady scrum Ireland's scrum will be tested against South Africa. Photo: Getty Images/Adam Pretty

    Memories of Ireland's alarmingly creaking scrum against England at Twickenham in March 2022, despite a second-minute red card for Charlie Ewels, have led Farrell to develop more depth in his front row despite overseas contingent in the Irish provinces. Thus, players such as Finley Bealham and Tom O'Toole joined the national team.

    In Ireland's win over South Africa in Dublin last November, Bealham earned the decisive penalty at a scrum early in the second half when an injury to opening tighthead Thad Furlong seemed to open the door for the Springboks. Ireland are now backing their scrum and, interestingly, scrum coach Fogarty on Saturday highlighted the issue of “scrum consistency”, suggesting the Springboks are looking to gain an early advantage in the scrum.

    “They want to build momentum from the set. Fogarty said. “They are a very big team, so they want to use weight, power and strength early in the fight to do as much damage as possible. This can be seen in the way they fight.

    “Consistency is something that World Rugby and the referees talk about a lot. This is sure to be an interesting battle. There must be a firm scrum before the ball hits the field. For us as a group to understand South Africa and for the referee to make sure he controls that element, it will be interesting. But this is them, they are huge in size, they have a lot of capabilities, they are world champions for a reason, and they have some cunning battle-hardened characters, so it will be a huge role. games.”

    Air conditioning

    In Ireland's win over South Africa last November, Andy Farrell's side made 78 tackles in the first 30 minutes to South Africa's 36. It was a brutally draining start, but crucially, despite South Africa's physical and territorial dominance, Ireland were able to withstand the pressure and take the lead before the Bomber Squad was even deployed.

    Despite the Springboks' physical advantage Ireland are confident their fitness and conditioning can handle whatever comes their way.

    “I think it's been a great pre-season for us and I'd say the boys are in pretty good shape; some of our best conditions I’ve seen in years,” Fogarty said. “We maintain our fitness against most teams and also maintain our smarts. I'm pretty confident about that.

    “We're talking about an 80-minute game no matter who we play and we know some teams are targeting the last 20 minutes. We also say that our bench goes to the bench and doesn't just fit in, but actually takes it to the next level. This will be important for us this weekend.”

    “On the Brink”

    Mentality is critical to dealing with aggression. and the fitness of the Springbok forwards, according to Ireland number eight Caelan Doris.

    “It's interesting because Paulie [Ireland forwards coach Paul O'Connell] actually spoke to us earlier and said, ' These weeks you may feel like you need to do a lot more, but trust what we've done lately.” Trust our good habits, our training, our training.”

    “It's not about what we just build this week, it's about what we've built over the last few years.”

    > “But despite that, this week has a special feeling. We know we have to put in our best effort, and that might come with a little extra talking or an extra review in the evening, or a little extra video, extra visualization, things like that, just to make sure you're fully on board. board.”

    Rugby is “smarter”

    The Springboks may have developed their game plan around the kicking game, but Doris insists the key to countering their physicality and dominating tackle and tackle situations is the Irish team's football skills.

    “ This is wrong. it’s just their size, it’s the way they play,” Doris added. “They're very straight towards the number 9. Sometimes they'll tie two or three players to the carrier and try to get them over the gain line. This is how they torment. The way they aggressively go after cancer. Part of it has to do with their size and physicality, but part of it has to do with their mindset and the way they play.

    “But we have good ball-playing forwards,” he added. “We have a lot of threats: we have good players, but we also have people who can move the ball, make passes, make wider passes, so it’s not just grouping and carrying. There's footwork, passing and the threat of carrying. Hopefully the defense will find it a little scary.”

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