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Rugby Championship: South Africa v Australia Preview
The Springboks will be looking to save a bit of face when the take on Australia at Loftus Versfeld this Saturday.
Allister Coetzee’s men begin their home leg of the 2016 Rugby Championship against the Wallabies this Saturday. With New Zealand having already wrapped up the title, this game is all about pride for the Boks and the visitors. So who will walk away from this one with the bragging right? Let’s see if we can find out.
South Africa v Australia | Saturday 1 October | Loftus Versfeld | 17:05
To Win (80 Mins)
South Africa 6/10 | Draw 22/1 | Australia 27/20
South Africa (-3.5) 9/10 | Australia (+3.5) 9/10
Allister Coetzee’s first six months at the helm of the Springboks can only be described as a baptism of fire. The former Western Province mentor has seen his side lose five out of their seven fixtures this year.
It is not all doom and gloom, however, as the ‘Boks did give a decent account of themselves in their last game out in Christchurch. I know what you’re thinking. And yes, they did go down by 28 points but there were elements of that performance that suggest they may be heading in the right direction. They looked a lot more composed with ball in hand - I'm overlooking Elton Janjties' fumble in the 22-meter area here. Warren Whiteley’s put in his best display in a ‘Bok jumper while Pieter-Steph du Toit stepped up to the plate magnificently. There are still some question marks over the backs, with Elton Jantjies having a mixed bag and the centre pairing of De Jongh and Kriel not exactly covering themselves in glory.
There has been huge reshuffle to the Springbok backline with Morne Steyn and Rudy Paige coming in as the half-back pairing and Elton Jantjies and Faf de Klerk dropping out of the matchday 23. Patrick
Personally, I’d have liked to see Lambie come in at fullback and Johan Goosen shift to the outside-centre berth. Goosen starred in this position for Racing Metro during their run to the 2015/16 Top 14 title. The former Free State Cheetahs man must be absolutely gutted to miss out.
The Wallabies are in a very similar position to their counterparts, although, they have won two of their Rugby Championship fixtures and the ‘Boks have only a solitary win to their names. A victory here would vanquish some of the Australian rugby public’s disenchantment with their side.
It has been a tough old year for the Australians. A 3-0 home series loss to England was followed up by two consecutive heavy defeats to the All Blacks. They managed to bounce back from their poor start to the year with back to back Rugby Championship wins over South Africa and then Argentina. Their victory over Argentina came at a cost, however, with inspirational loose forward, David Pocock, breaking his hand. Melbourne Rebels stalwart Sean McMahon will in all probability take over from Pocock at the tail of the Australian scrum.
Australia are going to need a big performance from their half-back pairing if they are to beat the South Africans on the Highveld. Quade Cooper has given a decent account of himself during the Australians last two fixtures while Will Genia has been the Wallabies standout player thus far. The diminutive Genia will be tasked with clearing the Australian’s lines which may prove quite difficult if the ‘Bok forward pack can get breakdown dominance. Another man who will play a key role for the Wallabies is rookie Reece Hodge. The Melbourne Rebels youngster has a siege gun of a boot and his ability to place kick from more than 50 meters out will be vital to the Wallabies cause.
The Stats That Matter
Australia have won three of the last five games between the sides but have struggled to win in South Africa. Their last victory in the Republic came back in 2011 where they ran out 14-9 victors at Kings Park.
The Springboks have never lost to the Australians at Loftus. The Wallabies narrowest losing margin came in 2001 where they went down by five points.
Verdict: South Africa 6/10
This game should be a rather tight affair that is decided by a long range penalty or two. I think the ‘Boks will be the ones who edge it courtesy of a Morne Steyn's boot.