This article previews Saturday’s Rugby Championship clash between the Wallabies and Springboks at Patersons Stadium in Perth. The game kicks off at 8:35 PM AEST (6:35 PM AWST) on the 8th of September.
The Wallabies and Springboks have faced off 74 times with the Wallabies winning 32, losing 41 and drawing 1. Home advantage has been extremely important in Tests between the two sides. In Australia the Wallabies have a 20-11 record, while in South Africa the Wallabies are 10-30. Interestingly, the Springboks have a good record in Perth. In six Tests they have won three and drawn one. In recent years Australia have had the better of the Springboks, winning the last four Tests and six of the last seven. Below are the most recent results.
Kurtley Beale is promoted back into the starting line-up after being dropped to the bench for the Eden Park Test. Adam Ashley-Cooper will shift to outside-centre at the expense of Rob Horne, who has been dropped from the 22-man squad. Dom Shipperley will make his international debut on the wing in place of the injured Drew Mitchell.
In the forwards, Scott Higginbotham has been dropped to the bench with Radike Samo getting the No. 8 jersey. Hooker Tatafu Polota Nau has been named on the reserves after recovering from the injury that kept him out of the Eden Park Test.
15-Kurtley Beale, 14-Dom Shipperley, 13-Adam Ashley-Cooper, 12-Berrick Barnes, 11-Digby Ioane, 10-Quade Cooper, 9-Will Genia (captain), 8-Radike Samo, 7-Michael Hooper, 6-Dave Dennis, 5-Nathan Sharpe, 4-Sitaleki Timani, 3-Ben Alexander, 2-Stephen Moore, 1-Benn Robinson
Reserves: 16-Tatafu Polota Nau, 17-James Slipper, 18-Scott Higginbotham, 19-Liam Gill, 20-Nick Phipps, 21-Mike Harris, 22-Anthony Fainga’a
South Africans have taken to social media to lambast coach Heyneke Meyer for selecting Francois Hougaard at the expense of Lwazi Mvovo on the wing. Duane Vermeulen will get his first Test cap for the Springboks at No. 8. In other changes Meyer has named Ruan Pienaar at scrum-half, while Juandre Kruger replaces the dropped Andries Bekker at lock. Ruan Pienaar will start at halfback, while Willem Alberts moves from No. 8 to openside-flanker. Flanker Francois Louw has been included in the 22-man squad for the first time this season, while Jacques Potgieter drops out of the squad.
15-Zane Kirchner, 14-Bryan Habana, 13-Jean de Villiers, 12-Francois Steyn, 11-Francois Hougaard, 10-Morne Steyn, 9-Ruan Pienaar, 8-Duane Vermeulen, 7-Willem Alberts, 6-Marcell Coetzee, 5-Juandre Kruger, 4-Eben Etzebeth, 3-Jannie du Plessis, 2-Adriaan Strauss, 1-Tendai Mtawarira
Reserves: 16- Tiaan Liebenberg, 17-Patric Cilliers, 18-Flip van der Merwe, 19-Francois Louw, 20-Johan Goosen, 21-Patrick Lambie, 22-Lwazi Mvovo
The Springboks were humbled by Los Pumas two weeks ago. Like the Wallabies they are under a lot of pressure from their fans so they will have a few points to prove on Saturday. This is a relatively inexperienced Springboks side. They will sorely miss hooker Bismarck du Plessis who is out for the rest of the season. Also missing due to injury are Schalk Burger, Pierre Spies and JP Pietersen. John Smit, Victor Matfield and Jaque Fourie have retired, while Fourie du Preez, Bakkies Botha, Danie Rossouw and Gurtho Steenkamp are no longer playing rugby in South Africa. It is during away fixtures that this lack of experience can show. A second poor outing will likely see further players join Jacques Potgieter in being dropped from the squad, so a number of players will be playing to retain their place in the squad.
The Wallabies performance at Eden Park was embarrassing for Australian Rugby fans. Coach Robbie Deans lauded the All Blacks side as being one of the best ever, but I don’t think the All Blacks were at their best in that Test. Had they showed more composure near the try line it could have been much uglier than 22-0 two weeks ago. While player for player you could argue the Wallabies simply aren’t as good as the All Blacks, they certainly weren’t helped by their strategy. After holding onto possession early the Wallabies opted to kick for field position. But when you’re kicking (and kicking poorly) to Israel Dagg the result is usually a dangerous counterattack. The Wallabies did defend well to limit the All Blacks to just the one try, but they will have to find a way to get over the advantage line with ball in hand. In the last two Tests the Wallabies have either moved laterally too quickly or opted to kick possession away. On the up side for Australia, they’re not playing the All Blacks this week! The Springboks often play a kicking game for field position so the Wallabies won’t have to worry about being starved of possession if they opt to kick.
Neither back-line is setting the world alight at the moment, so I’m expecting a forward dominated game on Saturday. It’s not that the Wallabies backline is terrible; it’s just that the forwards haven’t been able to get set a platform from which the backs can attack. The All Blacks destroyed Ireland 60-0 prior to the first Championship Test, so the Wallabies’ woes may simply be a product of playing against a side that’s in a league of its own at the moment. This Test against the Springboks will provide greater insight into how well the Wallabies are tracking.
While South Africa have a decent record in Perth they are a relatively inexperienced side. Argentina have showed that South Africa are vulnerable on the road so I rate the Wallabies as a good chance of winning this one. I don’t expect a high scoring affair so my best bet is for the Wallabies to win by 1-12 at 2.65 odds with Luxbet. Those who wish to be more conservative can pair this wager with a bet on the Springboks to win by 1-12 at 3.20 odds.
In the total score betting I fancy the under 45.5 points at 1.91 odds with bet365. The Wallabies have defended well this series, limiting a potent All Blacks side to two tries in two Tests. The Springboks are more than happy to trade penalties rather than tries and the last two Tests between the two sides have finished 14-9 and 11-9 in Australia’s favour – well short of 45.5 total points.
Click here to compare the latest Wallabies vs. Springboks odds.
UPDATE: hooker Stephen Moore is out for Australia after suffering a hamstring injury on Thursday. Tatafu Polota-Nau will start in his place with Saia Fainga’a added to the bench.
One other note is the Springboks will leapfrog the Wallabies into second place on the world rankings if they win on Saturday.