Australia v South Africa - Teams and Prediction
RUGBY CHAMPIONSHIP ROUND FOUR: Springbok captain Siyamthanda Kolisi says he understands the frustration in South Africa after his team’s inconsistent performances this year.
That frustration hit new heights last weekend when the Springboks bumbled their way to a 17-25 defeat to the Wallabies in Adelaide.
It left them propping up the Rugby Championship table at the midway point with just one win from three games. Argentina surprisingly lead the way, with Australia a close second and the All Blacks third.
Saturday’s rematch with Australia in Sydney has been described as “a final” for the injury-ravaged Boks as they strive to stay in Rugby Championship contention.
However, they will need to learn to convert pressure into points, which is something they failed to do at the Adelaide Oval.
“We prepared as well as we could. It’s been tough and we know it was a tough loss last week,” said Kolisi.
“We left a lot of opportunities out there on the field and we are hurting.
“We worked as hard as we can to make sure that we rectify the mistakes we made last week. We always look at ourselves first and what we can do better.
“South Africans are emotional people and it has been an emotional week and we want to be better.”
Kolisi added: “We fully understand the frustration and we as players expect that. We are feeling the same frustration.
“We do see them [fans] and we do take it seriously because without the people we can’t do what we love.
“We just hope they don’t give up on us because we worked really hard this week and this game is important to us and we definitely want to use those opportunities better this week.
“It is painful to look at the blatant opportunities that we do leave on the field.”
Meanwhile, Springbok assistant coach Mzwandile Stick said there is nothing to change in terms of the game plan, despite his team’s horror show last week.
“Our plan is always to make sure that we win games,” said Stick.
“Especially in the first half, we created more opportunities and we guilty of not converting it into points.
“There was a time in that first half when we had about 80 percent territory and we were dominating. I think everyone that was watching the game could see that with all the opportunities we had we couldn’t convert it into tries.
“We are not going to change much on how we are going to play the game, but the most important thing for us is that we just convert those opportunities into points. Australia are a tough team at home, so it has been a tough week for us.”
Meanwhile, Wallabies captain James Slipper warned on Friday that the Wallabies must improve their line-out and scrum if they want to ride the momentum of beating South Africa with another win over the world champions this weekend.
Australia is chasing back-to-back victories for the first time this season and with the Rugby Championship wide open it would leave them in a strong position with two games to play against a misfiring All Blacks.
They currently sit level on nine points with Argentina after two wins from three, four points clear of New Zealand and five ahead of South Africa at the tournament’s midway point.
“Argentina are proving they’re a pretty tough team to beat… it goes to show you how tight this competition is,” Slipper told reporters in Sydney ahead of Saturday’s sold-out clash with the Springboks.
“We’ve got four of the best teams in the world going head-to-head week in, week out… we’re obviously coming off a good result, but I guess because it’s such a short competition, each win and each back-up win is crucial.
“Momentum is a big thing in sport and hopefully we gain a bit of momentum going into that clash [in Melbourne this month] with the All Blacks.”
The Adelaide Test was one of Australia’s best performances this year, but they conceded 16 penalties and lost six line-outs on their own throw, which allowed the Springboks to build constant pressure.
“[Assistant coach] Dan [McKellar] had us training pretty hard on the line-out, it was a big part of our game that struggled last weekend,” said Slipper, who will play his 121st Test, equalling Michael Hooper, who is on mental health leave, and former teammate Adam Ashley-Cooper.
“You’ve got to be honest there and you’ve got to get better because you know the Springboks are a good team. Not only the lineout, the scrum was under pressure at times, the set-piece is just so important at Test match rugby.”
Players to watch
For Australia: Flank Fraser McReight was undoubtedly the star of the show in Australia’s win in Adelaide. He was a nuisance at the breakdowns and he played like a man possessed with ball in hand. Scrumhalf Nic White had a spotlight on him throughout the week after his dramatic acting when Francois de Klerk clipped him on the face in Adelaide. There is no doubt that the Boks will be looking to put some extra pressure on him this week. Flyhalf Noah Lolesio produced one of his best performances in a Wallabies jersey last week and he will be called on again to control the flow of the game, especially against his opposite number Damian Willemse. Going out wide, Marika Koroibete is a huge presence in the backline and if he gets plenty of ball then there could be plenty of problems for the Boks.
For South Africa: All eyes will be on Canan Moodie. The 19-year-old is making his international debut and he will have a big challenge trying to mark Marika Koroibete out wide. However, Moodie is no slouch with ball in hand and he showed that in the Bulls’ United Rugby Championship campaign. Damian Willemse gets the No.10 jersey this week due to injuries and he is a more attack-minded playmaker. It could mean that the Boks will adopt a more expansive game plan this week. Looking at the midfield, Jesse Kriel is at No.13 after Lukhanyo Am was ruled out. It seems Kriel’s presence in that key position is making some Bok fans nervous, but the 28-year-old has plenty of experience in pressure situations. Another position fans are not too sure about is No.7. Franco Mostert has been entrusted with that blindside role, but he is more effective at lock.
Head to head
Australia have won each of their last three Tests against South Africa after winning just one in six previously (D2, L3); the last time the Wallabies enjoyed a longer winning run against the Springboks was a five-match span from September 2010 to September 2012.
Australia have won two of their last three men’s Tests (L1), after winning only one of their six games prior (L5); the Wallabies have scored exactly 10 points in the first halves of each of the last four games in that span.
South Africa have lost their last two men’s Tests, as many as they lost in their eight games prior (W6, L2); the Springboks have led at halftime on the day just twice across that 10-game span.
South Africa have won only one of their last five Tests away from home in The Rugby Championship (L4), a 31-29 victory against New Zealand (2 October 2021); the Springboks have scored exactly 17 points in three of those four defeats.
Last 10 encounters:
2022: Australia won 25-17, Adelaide
2021: Australia won 30-17, Brisbane
2021: Australia won 28-26, Gold Coast
2019: South Africa won 35-17, Johannesburg
2018: South Africa won 23-12, Port Elizabeth
2018: Australia won 23-18, Brisbane
2017: 27-27 draw, Bloemfontein
2017: 23-23 draw, Perth
2016: South Africa won 18-10, Pretoria
2016: Australia won 23-17, Brisbane
@rugby365com: Australia by five points.
Australia: 15 Reece Hodge, 14 Tom Wright, 13 Len Ikitau, 12 Hunter Paisami, 11 Marika Koroibete, 10 Noah Lolesio, 9 Nic White, 8 Rob Valetini, 7 Fraser McReight, 6 Jed Holloway, 5 Matt Philip, 4 Rory Arnold, 3 Allan Alaalatoa, 2 Folau Fainga’a, 1 James Slipper (captain).
Replacements: 16 David Porecki, 17 Scott Sio, 18 Taniela Tupou, 19 Darcy Swain, 20 Rob Leota, 21 Pete Samu, 22 Jack Gordon, 23 Andrew Kellaway.
South Africa: 15 Willie le Roux, 14 Canan Moodie, 13 Jesse Kriel, 12 Damian de Allende, 11 Makazole Mapimpi, 10 Damian Willemse, 9 Jaden Hendrikse, 8 Jasper Wiese, 7 Franco Mostert, 6 Siyamthanda Kolisi (captain), 5 Lodewyk de Jager, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Frans Malherbe, 2 Malcolm Marx, 1 Steven Kitshoff.
Replacements: 16 Deon Fourie, 17 Retshegofaditswe Nche, 18 Trevor Nyakane, 19 Albertus Smith, 20 Duane Vermeulen, 21 Jacobus Reinach, 22 Francois Steyn, 23 Warrick Gelant.
Date: Saturday, September 3
Venue: Sydney Football Stadium, Sydney
Kick-off: 19.35 (11.35 SA time; 09.35 GMT)
Expected weather: There will be showers with a strong breeze and a high of 15°C and a low of 13°C
Referee: Ben O’Keeffe (New Zealand)
Assistant referees: Paul Williams (New Zealand), Tual Trainini (France)
TMO: Brendon Pickerill (New Zealand)
* Additional reporting by AFP & stats provided by Opta Data