Australia warm up for Tri-Nations decider


If you had offered Robbie Deans a Tri-Nations title decider against the All Blacks with one game spare before the competition kicked off, he would have bitten your hand off.

Yet this is the situation that the Wallabies coach is in, despite having to play the Springboks twice in a row in their own back yard.

Australia’s 27-15 defeat of the Springboks in Durban last weekend (their first win in South Africa for eight years) ended the reigning world champion’s hopes of clinching the Tri-Nations, and as a result, Australia have already assured themselves of a Tri-Nations title decider against the All Blacks in Brisbane on 13 September, regardless of Saturday’s result.

It goes as no surprise then that both sides have made changes to their starting line-ups. Deans has significantly changed the team that won in Durban with full-back Adam Ashley-Cooper, lock Hugh McMeniman, flanker Phil Waugh, hooker Tatafu Polota-Nau and centre Timana Tahu all set to start.

Timana Tahu, a former rugby league international, wins his first start for the Wallabies, replacing the injured Berrick Barnes, while Hugh McMeniman takes the place of Daniel Vickerman who had been ruled out with a shoulder injury.

Ashley-Cooper has recovered from a broken hand, relegating Drew Mitchell to the bench, while Phil Waugh replaces George Smith on the side of the scrum and hooker Stephen Moore makes way for Tatafu Polota-Nau.

Rocky Elsom, who was adjudged to have played Springboks lock Victor Matfield in the air, won his appeal against the decision on Thursday in time for selection.

South Africa coach Peter de Villiers makes two changes to his side with Odwa Ndungane and Brian Mujati drafted in. Prop Mujati and wing Ndungane start in place of the suspended CJ van der Linde (who incidentally will miss the first few matches of the Magners League season with his new side Leinster) and injured JP Pietersen.

South Africa have also made changes to the bench with Jannie du Plessis coming in as front row cover, while lock Danie Rossouw takes the place of Joe van Niekerk. There is also a spot among the replacements for the versatile Ruan Pienaar but Bryan Habana (hamstring) and Francois Steyn (concussion) were not considered for the match because of injuries.

The Springboks will not want to lose another match at home – this dead rubber promises to be a heated affair.

South Africa: Conrad Jantjes; Odwa Ndungane, Adrian Jacobs, Jean de Villiers, Jongi Nokwe, Butch James, Fourie du Preez, Pierre Spies, Juan Smith, Schalk Burger, Victor Matfield (capt), Andries Bekker, Brian Mujati, Bismarck du Plessis, Tendai Mtawarira.
Replacements: Adriaan Strauss, Jannie du Plessis, Danir Rossouw, Luke Watson, Ricky Januarie, Ruan Pienaar, Percy Montgomery.

Australia: Adam Ashley-Cooper, Peter Hynes, Stirling Mortlock, Timana Tahu, Lote Tuqiri, Matt Giteau, Sam Cordingley, Benn Robinson, 2-Tatafu Polota-Nau, 3-Matt Dunning, 4-James Horwill, 5-Hugh McMeniman, 6-Rocky Elsom, 7-Phil Waugh, 8-Wycliff Palu.
Replacements: Stephen Moore, Al Baxter, Dean Mumm, George Smith, Brett Sheehan, Ryan Cross, Drew Mitchell.

By John White

One thought on “Australia warm up for Tri-Nations decider

  1. South Africa’s lack of direction is worrying, JdV is clueless. I’m worried the players will loose respect for him and give up especially if australia build a lead they’ll have nothing to play for and the aussies could open up at the end.

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