Springbok head coach Rassie Erasmus says that his side intentionally played their final Rugby World Cup warm up test against Japan with less possession to prepare for their World Cup opener against the All Blacks.
The Springboks avenged their shock defeat at the 2015 Rugby World Cup by beating Japan 41-7 in Saitama last Friday.
However, Erasmus' side only played with 37% of the possession and still managed to score six tries, with winger Makazole Mapimpi grabbing a hat-trick.
Throughout the game it was noticeable that the Springboks put boot to ball and put pressure on the Japanese back three whenever possible. This meant that the Boks spent most of the game on the defence particularly in the second half when conditions started to take their toll. This saw the Springbok finish the game having made 164 tackles compared to Japan’s 69.
The Bok coach has since revealed that the his side's tactics were intentionally trialled to replicate the expected conditions of their first World Cup match against New Zealand.
"One of our first priorities was to adapt to the weather circumstances," Erasmus told the New Zealand Herald. "The humidity meant the ball was wet; after 25 minutes all the jerseys were wet and the arms were wet. We are used to this sort of thing from games in Durban in February, so we treated it like it was a wet-weather game."
"It paid off a bit but there were times when Japan almost got away and scored tries. So, I would say that there were stages we were really effective in doing it, but also Japan could have capitalised on opportunities at other stages and then it could have been a different game."
"Playing without the ball was intentional. Just for this first game to see how it goes. Because we never know what [weather conditions] will be like against New Zealand."
"Of our six tries, four came from contestable kicks. So it was a source of possession for us. It won’t be as big a source of possession against New Zealand, we know that, but this Japan game was one we had to win as they went into the game with a 100% record against us. We thought we’d take them out of their comfort zone."