Australia target Boks for elusive first win
September 5, 2012
Kurtley Beale is back in the green and gold of Australia © PA Photos
Australia host South Africa in Perth this Saturday with Wallabies coach Robbie Deans surely desperate for their first win in the Rugby Championship.
The Tri-Nations holders have endured a woeful start to the competition with back-to-back defeats against the All Blacks. While the Kiwis are undoubtedly the world's best side, the Trans-Tasman rivalry between the two teams coupled with the Wallabies' two defeats would have done little to ease the ill feeling that the majority of the Australian public seem to feel against Deans. They were nilled in their second Test and in front of their Perth faithful, Australia will hope for a better return against the Springboks.
Heyneke Meyer's Springboks are also under pressure to bounce back after a draw with Argentina in Mendoza just under a fortnight ago. The Pumas were the better team and Meyer was left to express his displeasure at the performance he had just witnessed. Meyer's only two games into his tenure as Boks boss and while other international coaches may be granted some bedding in time, the pressure will be on Meyer to produce the goods on the field.
Australia - Player to Watch: Kurtley Beale was woeful against the All Blacks in the first Test and pretty average from the bench in the second but on the front foot there are few better than Beale with ball in hand. In front of the passionate Australian support, they will hope that Beale has brought his 'A Game' for the match.
Australia - Team News: Deans has handed Dom Shipperley his Test debut while he has also recalled Beale and Radike Samo to the starting line-up. Shipperley comes in for the injured Drew Mitchell with Adam Ashley-Cooper shifting to the centres to make way for Beale. Samo gets the nod over Scott Higginbotham. Stephen Moore was meant to start for the Wallabies but he suffered a hamstring straing which sees Tatafu Polota Nau come into the side.
South Africa - Player to Watch: Ulster's Ruan Pienaar is back in the scrum-half shirt for the Springboks and Meyer will hope that he gives his side better direction that Francois Hougaard managed. There is no doubting that Hougaard is a hugely talented player but he looks to be best suited on the wing.
South Africa - Team News: Meyer has made three changes with Pienaar starting at scrum-half, Duane Vermeulen handed his debut at No.8 and Juandre Kruger replacing Andries Bekker in the second-row. Willem Alberts shifts to flanker alongside Marcell Coetzee to accommodate Vermeulen while Jacques Potgieter drops out of the matchday squad. Hougaard starts on the wing with Lwazi Mvovo dropping to the bench. Potential debutant Johan Goosen and Francois Louw will sit alongside Mvovo in the replacements.
Key Battle: Australia's fly-half is mercurial, the Springboks' is conservative. Quade Cooper is wonderfully unpredictable but we are yet to see the same sort of form that he showed during the 2011 Super Rugby competition. Morne Steyn is similarly struggling to re-find his 2009 best but they are still two quality operators. Whichever fly-half comes out on top could have a massive bearing on the game.
Ulster's Ruan Pienaar starts for the Boks © Getty Images
Trivia: Each of the last two matches played between these teams in Perth have been decided by seven points. That has been the biggest winning margin either has achieved from the six Tests played at the ground.
Stats: Morne Steyn needs just two points to become the second South African to compile 100 points against Australia in Tests.
"He would've been a Springbok years ago if it had not been for injuries and it's great to finally see him selected." - South Africa's Heyneke Meyer on debutant Duane Vermeulen
Prediction: Australia will record their first win of the Rugby Championship with a narrow margin of victory
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