Date: Saturday 13th August 2011
Kick-off: 16:05 (BST)
Venue: Kings Park, Durban
Referee: Bryce Lawrence (New Zealand)
The strongest Springbok side that we’ve seen so far in the Tri-Nations tournament, there is a plenty of pressure on head coach Peter de Villiers and the South African squad after two dreadful performances against Australia and New Zealand on tour. The two heavy defeats, racking up an aggregate score of 27-79, showed that South Africa’s support players behind the first team are good, but not good enough to compete with a full strength Wallaby and All Black team. Their fortunes could change on Saturday though, with the big names such as Bakkies Botha, Victor Matfield, Fourie du Preez and Frans Steyn all returning.
After having suffered a setback against New Zealand, Australia are another team in need of a response. They may have scored two tries at Eden Park, and two very good ones at that, but overall they were outclassed, unable to compete with New Zealand’s physicality in defence as Quade Cooper was shut down. The Wallabies need to forget about last week’s match quickly, and what better way than to pull off a big win in Durban. After having won in South Africa for the first time in 47 years last year in Bloemfontein, there is momentum for Australia to build on.
What To Expect:
South Africa to be extremely physical as New Zealand were last weekend. If enough defensive pressure can be applied on Quade Cooper and Will Genia by Butch James and Jean de Villiers, then Australia will struggle again to get their lethal back line moving. Take out John Smit at hooker and forget about the absence of the injured Juan Smith, and you have South Africa’s strongest line-up. Australia will have to be smart with their kicking game, and suck in some of the South African big hitters to release Adam Ashley-Cooper and Digby Ioane. Then, once those big runners have made the initial break, they must find the supporting cast of Genia, Cooper, Kurtley Beale and James O’Connor.
All Eyes On:
Heinrich Brüssow has spent too long on the sidelines over the last few years after starring during the 2009 Lions tour, and his talent is not to be under-estimated. A tenacious flanker who is brilliant at turning over ball at the ruck area, the Cheetah will want to find some fitness and feel his way back into the international scene ahead of the World Cup with a big performance on Saturday.
For Australia, Scott Higginbotham’s inclusion in the Test side is overdue. Two years of outstanding form for the Queensland Reds caught the eye of selectors, and although his time this season at number 8 has been limited, he provides the physicality that Australia just don’t get with Ben McCalman. He is also an impressively fast runner for a back rower, so don’t be too surprised if he appears running excellent support lines when Australia break through.
Head-to-Head: Frans Steyn and Kurtley Beale
Two of the most exciting talents in the game, both are still under the age of 24, which is a surprise given that it feels as though Steyn has been around forever. Acclaimed for different reasons, Steyn for his boot, Beale for his pace, both of their all-round games are exceptional. Steyn will be keen to remind the Southern Hemisphere audience what he has to offer after a few years away from Super Rugby playing in the Top 14 for Racing Métro 92, while Beale became an Australian hero last year when his conversion flew over from miles out to seal a 39-41 win.
South Africa are a wounded beast and will be boosted returning home, where no crowd is more passionate. But Australia forgetting the defeat to the All Blacks are on form, and after the success in Bloem last year will be gunning to do it again. Australia by 6.
by Ben Coles