Australia v South Africa - team and prediction
RUGBY CHAMPIONSHIP ROUND FOUR: South Africa run the risk of losing their place at the top of World Rugby’s totem pole when they face Australia in Brisbane on Saturday.
New Zealand will reclaim the No.1 position if they beat Argentina by more than 15 points and the Springboks lose to the Wallabies.
A smaller margin would be enough for the All Blacks to reclaim the top spot, if the Aussies win by more than 15 points.
South Africa’s cushion at the top has shrunk to 2.18 points after last week’s 26-28 loss on the Gold Coast, but could increase to 5.03 points if they win by more than 15 points and New Zealand lose by that margin.
Springbok captain Siyamthanda Kolisi dismissed the rankings as a major factor in their motivation.
“Winning is what we care about,” Kolisi said, adding that he did not realise the No.1 ranking is at risk.
“That is the only way you can maintain that [No.1] ranking. We are determined to win this weekend.
“We won’t focus on that, we just want to win this weekend – so we can get back into the competition and have a chance to retain our [Rugby Championship] title.”
He promised they will ‘pitch up’ this week – unlike last week’s off-colour performance on the Gold Coast.
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He made it clear that from their ‘review’ process, they knew exactly what went wrong last week.
The South Africans gave away 11 penalties and had two players sin-binned, crashing to their second defeat of the year – defeat despite scoring three tries to one.
“It was very upsetting to lose like that,” he said of the Quade Cooper penalty after the full-time hooter had sounded.
“Some of the things we normally bring [to the game], we did not bring,” Kolisi told @rugby365com during a virtual media briefing, adding: “That was difficult to see.
“We are more determined this week than we were last week.
“We didn’t show that determination on the field last week.”
He spoke of ‘small things’ and ‘simple errors’ that cost them last week.
“I will give credit to Australia for their performance last week, but we will be much better this week.”
The game at Lang Park will be a landmark for Wallaby captain Michael Hooper, who will become his country’s most-capped skipper when he leads the side out for a 60th time in his 113th Test, surpassing George Gregan.
“It’s an incredible milestone for Hoops on Saturday in Brisbane and it’s a testament to him as a person and a player,” coach Dave Rennie said.
“I’ve been so impressed with his leadership both on and off the field and his drive to be better every day.”
The Wallaby coach added that he was really proud of the effort last Sunday.
“We’re well aware of the ferocity that a wounded Springboks outfit will bring this week.”
Players to watch
For Australia: Quade Cooper, the star from last week’s win, will again wear the No.10 jersey for Australia. Experienced scrumhalf Nic White will start for the first time this season in place of Tate McDermott, after starring as a replacement last week, when he forced the decisive penalty that enabled Cooper to win the game. Other changes see tighthead prop Taniela Tupou come in for Allan Alaalatoa, who has left for the birth of his child, while James Slipper returns to the starting side as loosehead prop.
For South Africa: The Springbok team shows just two changes from the side that under-performed last week, one of them enforced by injury. Marvin Orie comes in for lock Lodewyk de Jager, who is recovering from concussion. The other change is also among the tight forwards – Trevor Nyakane preferred at loosehead prop to Steven Kitshoff, who moves to the bench. The backline, despite last week’s shocker, remains unchanged – giving World Cup stars such as Willie le Roux, Lukhanyo Am, Makazole Mapimpi, Handre Pollard and Francois de Klerk a chance to redeem themselves. Another player that appeared undercooked last week and could benefit from the Gold Coast hit-out is veteran No.8 Duane Vermeulen.
Head to head
South Africa and Australia have met nine times since the beginning of 2015, with those games decided by an average margin of six points per game. The Wallabies have picked up four wins and two draws in that stretch – losing three of those encounters. This will be the first time that Australia have faced South Africa twice within a span of eight days since September 2010. The Wallabies have won their last two Tests against the Springboks when
they’ve had a turnaround of fewer than 14 days. South Africa have conceded just 13 points in the final quarters of games thus far in the 2021 edition of the Rugby Championship, fewer than any other team in the competition. However, Australia have scored more points in this quarter (27) than they have in any other.
@rugby365com: South Africa by eight points
Australia: 15 Tom Banks, 14 Andrew Kellaway, 13 Len Ikitau, 12 Samu Kerevi, 11 Marika Koroibete, 10 Quade Cooper, 9 Nic White, 8 Rob Valetini, 7 Michael Hooper (captain), 6 Lachlan Swinton, 5 Matt Philip, 4 Izack Rodda, 3 Taniela Tupou, 2 Folau Fainga’a, 1 James Slipper.
Replacements: 16 Feleti Kaitu’u, 17 Angus Bell, 18 Tom Robertson, 19 Darcy Swain, 20 Pete Samu, 21 Tate McDermott, 22 Reece Hodge, 23 Jordan Petaia.
South Africa: 15 Willie le Roux, 14 Sibusiso Nkosi, 13 Lukhanyo Am, 12 Damian de Allende, 11 Makazole Mapimpi, 10 Handré Pollard, 9 Francois de Klerk, 8 Duane Vermeulen, 7 Francois Mostert, 6 Siyamthanda Kolisi (captain), 5 Marvin Orie, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Frans Malherbe, 2 Mbongeni Mbonambi, 1 Trevor Nyakane.
Replacements: 16 Malcolm Marx, 17 Steven Kitshoff, 18 Vincent Koch, 19 Marco van Staden, 20 Albertus Smith, 21 Jasper Wiese, 22 Herschel Jantjies, 23 Damian Willemse.
Date: Saturday, September 18
Venue: Lang Park, Brisbane
Kick-off: 17.05 (09.05 SA time; 07.05 GMT)
Expected weather: Sunny day. Light winds becoming north to northeasterly 20 to 30 km/h in the middle of the day. High of 24°C and a low of 14°C
Referee: Matthew Carley (England)
Assistant referees: Luke Pearce (England), Graham Cooper (Australia)
TMO: Brett Cronan (Australia)
* Statistics provided by Opta Sports