RECAP: South Africa v Australia
READERS’ FORUM: Welcome to @rugby365‘s live coverage of the opening Rugby Championship Test between South Africa and Australia at Ellis Park.
South Africa have played Australia 10 times at Ellis Park in downtown Johannesburg, winning nine and losing just once – 9-11 back in 1963. The last time they played at Ellis Park was in 2008, when the Springboks won 53-8, scoring eight tries to one.
But then Springboks have played the Wallabies eight times at Suncorp Stadium in sea-level Brisbane, and the Wallabies have won seven times – a much greater percentage of success than they have otherwise against South Africa.
2018: Australia won 23-18 in Brisbane and South Africa won 23-12 in Port Elizabeth
2017: Two draws – 23-23 in Perth and 27-27 in Bloemfontein
2016: Australia won 23-17 in Brisbane and South Africa won 18-10 in Pretoria
2015: Australia won 24-20 in Brisbane
2014: Australia won 24-23 in Perth and South Africa won 28-10 at Newlands
2013: South Africa won 38-12 in Brisbane and 28-8 at Newlands
Prediction: South Africa have lost only one of their last five Tests against Australia; though, two of those meetings ended in a draw. This will be the 11th meeting between South Africa and Australia at Ellis Park, the Springboks having won nine of the previous 10 clashes at the venue. South Africa have won only three of their last 10 games in The Rugby Championship, including a last-start two-point defeat to New Zealand. South Africa have won 13 of their last 16 games played at Ellis Park, including their last three on the bounce across which they’ve scored an average of 36 points per game. Australia will be looking to secure back-to-back wins at The Rugby Championship for the first time since 2016 – after ending their 2018 campaign with a 45-34 win over Argentina. Australia’s win rate of 24 percent when playing in South Africa is their lowest in any nation; indeed, it is the lowest win rate of any of the six nations to have played more than 20 Tests there. South Africa have scored 22 drop-goals at The Rugby Championship, as many as all three other teams combined (Australia nine, New Zealand nine, Argentina four). Dane Haylett-Petty (Australia) gained 397 metres in The Rugby Championship 2018, the most of any player and 130 more than South Africa’s best, Siya Kolisi (267). Willie Le Roux (South Africa) produced the joint-most try assists (five, also New Zealand’s Beauden Barrett) in The Rugby Championship 2018, three more than any Australian player managed. Pieter-Steph du Toit (South Africa) made the most tackles (83) of any player in The Rugby Championship 2018, 33 more than the leading player in Australia’s 2019 squad Michael Hooper (50)
Prediction: South Africa
Margin: Five points
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South Africa: 15 Warrick Gelant, 14 Sibusiso Nkosi, 13 Jesse Kriel, 12 André Esterhuizen, 11 Makazole Mapimpi, 10 Elton Jantjies, 9 Herschel Jantjies, 8 Francois Louw, 7 Pieter-Steph du Toit, 6 Rynhardt Elstadt , 5 Lodewyk de Jager, 4 Eben Etzebeth (captain), 3 Trevor Nyakane, 2 Bongi Mbonambi, 1 Tendai Mtawarira.
Replacements: 16 Schalk Brits, 17 Lizo Gqoboka, 18 Vincent Koch, 19 Marvin Orie, 20 Marcel Coetzee, 21 Cobus Reinach, 22 Frans Steyn, 23 Dillyn Leyds.
Australia: 15 Tom Banks, 14 Dane Haylett-Petty, 13 Tevita Kuridrani, 12 Samu Kerevi, 11 Reece Hodge, 10 Bernard Foley, 9 Nic White, 8 Isi Naisarani, 7 Michael Hooper (captain), 6 Lukhan Salakaia-Loto, 5 Rory Arnold, 4 Izack Rodda, 3 Sekope Kepu, 2 Folau Fainga’a, 1 James Slipper.
Replacements: 16 Jordan Uelese, 17 Harry Johnson-Holmes, 18 Taniela Tupou, 19 Rob Simmons, 20 Jack Dempsey, 21 Will Genia, 22 Matt To’omua, 23 Kurtley Beale.
Referee: Paul Williams (New Zealand)
Assistant referees: Matthew Carley (England), Karl Dickson (England)
TMO: Rowan Kitt (England)