The following is a preview of the Round 5 Rugby Championship clash between South Africa and Australia at Newlands Stadium in Cape Town. The game kicks off at 1:00 AM AEST on Sunday, the 29th of September. The referee is Jérôme Garcès from France.
South Africa and Australia sit 2nd and 3rd, respectively, in the Rugby Championship. The Springboks are 4 points behind the All Blacks but have two home games to come. The Wallabies have 4 just points, all of which came from their Round 4 win over Argentina. Below are each side’s results so far.
South Africa 73-13 Argentina
Argentina 17-22 South Africa
Australia 12-38 South Africa
New Zealand 29-15 South Africa
Australia 29-47 New Zealand
New Zealand 27-16 Australia
Australia 12-38 South Africa
Australia 14-13 Argentina
After talking up their chances in Auckland, the Springboks will be disappointed by their 14-point loss to the All Blacks in Round 4. Bismarck du Plessis’ sending off didn’t help matters, but they were undone by a high error count. The worst aspect of that loss was they conceded a bonus point to the All Blacks without picking up a point themselves.
Two weeks ago, and on a four-game losing streak, the Wallabies were under immense pressure to beat Los Pumas in Perth. They made hard work of it but prevailed 14-13 to pick up their first points of the competition, much to the relief of coach Ewen McKenzie. The wet and windy conditions kept the total score down, with Argentina arguably the worse affected. After leading 14-3 at half time the Wallabies were kept scoreless in the second half as Argentina began to dominate possession. The Wallabies were again guilty of indiscipline, conceding twelve penalties in the second half alone, so it was far from a convincing win for the Wallabies. Apart from the win, there were some positives. Ben Mowen handled the captaincy duties well and Nic White performed well at scrumhalf.
In head-to-head meetings, the Wallabies have won five of the last seven against the Springboks, however the Springboks have won the last two. Below are the most recent results in South Africa.
2012: South Africa 31-8 Australia (Pretoria)
2011: South Africa 9-14 Australia (Durban)
2010: South Africa 39-41 Australia (Bloemfontein)
2010: South Africa 44–31 Australia (Pretoria)
2009: South Africa 29–17 Australia (Cape Town)
Cape Town has been an unhappy hunting ground for Australia in recent years. At this venue they have lost their last five against South Africa, with the Wallabies’ last win coming in 1992.
Bismark du Plessis has had his red card from Auckland expunged from the record books after the IRB ruled that his first yellow card was unwarranted. He has been named on the bench with Adriaan Strauss given the start as part of a pre-planned rotation. In another rotation, Fourie du Preez has been recalled to the lineup and will start at halfback with Ruan Pienaar dropping to the bench.
15. Zane Kirchner, 14. Willie le Roux, 13. JJ Engelbrecht, 12. Jean de Villiers (captain), 11. Bryan Habana, 10. Morne Steyn, 9. Fourie du Preez, 8. Duane Vermeulen, 7. Willem Alberts, 6. Francois Louw, 5. Flip van der Merwe, 4. Eben Etzebeth, 3. Jannie du Plessis, 2. Adriaan Strauss, 1. Tendai Mtawarira
Reserves: 16. Bismarck du Plessis, 17. Gurthro Steenkamp, 18. Coenie Oosthuizen, 19. Siya Kolisi, 20. Ruan Pienaar, 21. Pat Lambie, 22. Jan Serfontein
Prop Benn Robinson has been recalled to the bench. Captain James Horwill has overcome a hamstring injury and will start at lock with Kane Douglas dropping out of the squad.
In the backs, Jesse Mogg has been ruled out for the rest of the season with a shoulder injury while winger James O’Connor has been stood down for disciplinary reasons. Fellow winger Nick Cummins is out with a broken hand, which leaves the Wallabies without either winger who started against Argentina. In a back line reshuffle, Nick Cummins is replaced by Joe Tomane, Adam Ashley-Cooper shifts to the wing with Tevita Kuridrani joining Christian Leali’ifano in the centres. Nic White retains his spot at halfback with Will Genia again named on the bench.
15. Israel Folau, 14. Adam Ashley-Cooper, 13. Tevita Kuridrani, 12. Christian Leali’ifano, 11. Joe Tomane, 10. Quade Cooper, 9. Nic White, 8. Ben Mowen, 7. Michael Hooper, 6. Scott Fardy, 5. James Horwill (captain), 4. Rob Simmons, 3. Ben Alexander, 2. Stephen Moore, 1. James Slipper
Reserves: 16. Saia Fainga’a, 17. Benn Robinson, 18. Sekope Kepu, 19. Sitaleki Timani, 20. Ben McCalman, 21. Will Genia, 22. Matt Toomua, 23. Chris Faeuai-Sautia
After traditionally playing forwards-dominated rugby, the Springboks are taking a more balanced approach this year to make better use of their talented back line. The Springboks’ willingness to throw the ball around has certainly paid dividends. They have scored 32 tries in 7 Tests this year compared to 23 in 12 Tests in 2012. Coach Heyneke Meyer is keen for them to get their back line involved this weekend, however wet weather is forecast at Newlands.
Despite the shift in their approach, the Springboks remain a very physical team. The All Blacks matched them in that department in Eden Park and the Wallabies will have to do the same if they are to be competitive. The return of captain James Horwill will help in that department. His physically was notably missed in their 12–38 Round 3 defeat to the Springboks.
After four games under new coach Ewen McKenzie, the Wallabies haven’t fully settled on a game plan that best suits their strengths. They started by employing an aggressive approach of attacking from deep, but this backfired against the All Blacks and Springboks. Against Los Pumas the Wallabies played more of a field position game, which worked better for them. We can expect the Wallabies to adopt a similar approach this weekend.
A key to this Test will be the breakdown. The Wallabies dominated the Springboks in this area to knock them out of the 2011 World Cup, while the Springboks dominated the breakdown in their record breaking Round 3 victory over the Wallabies. The Wallabies are acutely aware of the need to improve on their recent performances in this department but it remains to be seen if they can match it with the Springboks, who have been excellent in this area of late.
The Wallabies have scored just 4 tries this tournament compared to 16 for the Springboks. Newlands Stadium has been an unhappy hunting ground for the Wallabies and they will be playing with a reshuffled backline after James O’Connor’s suspension. I would back the Springboks -11.5 at 1.92 (Sportsbet / IASbet).
This fixture is often a high scoring affair, however the wet forecast may put a dampener on that. I recommend waiting until shortly before kick-off before committing to any over/under wagers.
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