Rugby Championship: South Africa vs Australia

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One of our rugby writers takes an in-depth look at this weekend's Rugby Championship clash between South Africa and Australia. 

The fact that the Springboks head into this weekend’s Rugby Championship clash with Australia as favourites perhaps underlines just how freakish a Test match they endured in Albany last time out. The Boks certainly allowed their hosts, the All Blacks, some early momentum off the back of several inexcusable unforced errors, but the fact remains that nearly everything went the Kiwis’ way throughout the contest.

While a win in Bloemfontein this weekend won’t completely ward of Allister Coetzee’s circling vultures, it will ensure that the Boks will more than likely have cemented second-place on TRC log heading into the final weekend. Such a prospect though, looks unlikely.

South Africa v Australia | Saturday 30 September 2017 | Toyota Stadium, Bloemfontein | 17:05

To Win Match
SA 36/ 100, Draw 25/1, Australia 22/10
Handicap
SA 9/10 (-7.5), Australia 9/10 (+7.5)

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South Africa
It seems as though Allister Coetzee and his coaching staff will continue to deny just how average a Bok side this current crop is until the cows come home. The comments made in the aftermath of the 57-0 annihilation at the hands of New Zealand spoke volumes for just how impotent and out of depth Coetzee is at the helm, and indeed reinforced the view that the Boks’ results leading up to the 2019 Rugby World Cup won’t improve under his watch.

South Africa will continue to be mediocre until a proper coach assumes command, and until the entire South African rugby landscape is revamped.

Right, now it’s time to take a look at the positives, starting with the upcoming clash with the Wallabies in Bloemfontein! Of course, Eben Etzebeth’s charges drew 23-all in Perth to the same opposition three-weeks ago which, considering the drubbing they took the following week, doesn’t say much for the Australians. It has been widely publicized this week how much the Aussies have struggled to win at altitude – their last such victory came in 2010 in Bloemfontein courtesy of a late Kurtley Beale penalty. With this in mind, the Boks may look to wear the opposition down through their powerful pack early on, before unleashing their backs in the latter stages.

Coetzee this week recalled Bath flanker Francois Louw to the side, who is set to be a like-for-like replacement for the injured Jaco Kriel, while Ross Cronje also returns at nine after missing out on the All Blacks Test. His crisp service will come in handy as his forwards look to run off him; with Francois Hougaard’s dreadful performance in Kiwi-country highlighting just how important this man is to the Bok cause. All this aside, I have a funny feeling about the weekend…

Australia
Following their comprehensive display against Argentina that saw them run out 45-20 victors, Michael Cheika’s bunch are locked and loaded for this crunch clash in Bloemfontein - so much so in fact, that they even departed a day early in preparation. Cheika has the luxury of calling on a relatively unchanged line-up ahead of the weekend, and indeed it is this very continuity that may well lift his side to a famous win at the Toyota Stadium.

You get the feeling that should Michael Hooper and his forward-pack match the Springboks up front, they may well have the platform upon which to earn the win. Kurtley Beale and Israel Folau have been monumental for the Aussies this season, and they will look to take on the Bok defence just as they did in Perth. There’s something different about the way the Wallabies are approaching this Test, and I don’t like it one bit.

SPRINGBOKS: 15 Andries Coetzee, 14 Dillyn Leyds, 13 Jesse Kriel, 12 Jan Serfontein, 11 Courtnall Skosan, 10 Elton Jantjies, 9 Ross Cronje, 8 Uzair Cassiem, 7 Francois Louw, 6 Siya Kolisi, 5 Franco Mostert, 4 Eben Etzebeth (c), 3 Ruan Dreyer, 2 Malcolm Marx, 1 Tendai Mtawarira

Subs: 16 Chiliboy Ralepelle, 17 Steven Kitshoff, 18 Trevor Nyakane, 19 Pieter-Steph du Toit, 20 Jean-Luc du Preez, 21 Rudy Paige, 22 Handré Pollard, 23 Damian de Allende

WALLABIES: 15 Israel Folau, 14 Marika Koroibete, 13 Tevita Kuridrani, 12 Kurtley Beale, 11 Reece Hodge, 10 Bernard Foley, 9 Will Genia, 8 Sean McMahon, 7 Michael Hooper (c), 6 Jack Dempsey, 5 Adam Coleman, 4 Izack Rodda, 3 Sekope Kepu, 2 Tatafu Polota-Nau, 1 Scott Sio

Bench: 16 Stephen Moore, 17 Tom Robertson, 18 Allan Alaalatoa, 19 Rob Simmons, 20 Ned Hanigan, 21 Lukhan Tui, 22 Nick Phipps, 23 Samu Kerevi / Henry Speight

Verdict: Australia 22/10
The Springboks may well end up making a right arse of my prediction, but I just don’t see it happening. The Wallaby pack will be fired up for this one, and they just might outmuscle that of the South Africans’ this weekend to allow for a huge win. I’m expecting some Bloemfontein Blues for the Boks come Saturday.

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Written by Shaun Goosen for @Hollywoodbets.net

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