Boks eye second Championship win
September 27, 2012
Johan Goosen will make his first start for the Boks on Saturday © Getty Images
South Africa host Australia at Loftus Versveld on Saturday with both coaches feeling the pressure of their country's expectation.
The Boks have won just one match so far in the Rugby Championship - against tournament new boys Argentina - and with back-to-back defeats against the All Blacks and Australia, Heyneke Meyer will be hoping his team re-discover their best form against the Wallabies on Saturday. In front of their passionate Pretoria crowd and at altitude, the Boks hold all the trump cards.
The talk going into the match was dominated by out of form fly-half Morne Steyn. His heroics back in 2009 against the British & Irish Lions seem an eternity ago and the South African public have been calling for youngster Johan Goosen to be handed the half-back reigns instead of the Bulls man. Meyer has bowed to public pressure and has given the youngster the nod.
Wallabies coach Robbie Deans is also having issues with a fly-half, but an injured one. Quade Cooper has been on the front and back pages of the Australian press this week following his very public criticism of the Australian Rugby Union and the Wallabies set-up. Although he is adamant that he is supportive of Deans, labelling the camp as "toxic" will do little to alleviate the pressure on the coach. The Australians have two wins in this Rugby Championship under their belt but their record of just two victories in 16 games against the All Blacks is all the ammo the Deans-doubters need.
South Africa - Player to Watch: All eyes will be on the youngster Johan Goosen. He's accurate with the boot, dangerous with ball in hand and seems to have a rugby brain far more advanced than his tender years. He will either revel or collapse in the Loftus Versveld cauldron - fans of the Springboks will hope that he embraces the atmosphere and produces a match-winning performance.
South Africa - Team News: Goosen's inclusion at the expense of Morne Steyn is one of four changes from the team that lost to the All Blacks in their last match. Frans Steyn is out injured so Jaco Taute starts in the centres. Andries Bekker and Eben Etzebeth both start in the second-row while there are four changes to the replacements. Pat Cilliers, Flip van der Merwe, Elton Jantjies and Juan de Jongh are all included.
Australia - Player to Watch: Kurtley Beale starts his first match in the fly-half berth for the Wallabies. With friend and Wallabies colleague Cooper taking all the headlines, Beale will hope to deflect the attention away from the Reds playmaker and back on to the field for all the right reasons. There is no doubt that Beale is an immensely talented player, but he is out of form and will need to harness all of his ability come Saturday.
Australia - Team News: Beale has been handed the No.10 shirt with Nick Phipps remaining at scrum-half. Berrick Barnes switches to fullback while the team will be captained by Nathan Sharpe. Kane Douglas retains his place in the second-row in what will be his second Test for the Wallabies with Sitaleki Timani failing to recover from a hamstring strain. Reds second rower Rob Simmons comes in on a bench which features five forwards, while the evergreen Western Force halfback Brett Sheehan is one of two back reserves, alongside Anthony Fainga'a.
Kurtley Beale gets the nod at fly-half for the Wallabies © Getty Images
Key Battle: The scrum-half battle will be fascinating. All the attention will be on their half-back partners but Nick Phipps and Ruan Pienaar have very contrasting styles. Pienaar, who is also equally adept at fly-half, has the kicking and passing skills to constantly pin back the opposition while Phipps, who is in the side due to Will Genia's injury, likes to attack off the front foot.
Trivia: Nathan Sharpe will become the joint most-capped forward for the Wallabies when he takes to the field on Saturday. He will draw level with George Smith on 110 caps.
Stats: Since 1933 the Springboks have played only five Test matches against Australia at Loftus Versfeld and were triumphant in all five. Their most recent meeting came back in 2010 where the Boks prevailed 44-31.
"He's brought that enthusiasm forward with him since we've been in South Africa, has worked hard on the training track, and is excited about the opportunity ahead. He has good memories from some of his experiences over here." - Wallabies coach Robbie Deans on Kurtley Beale
Prediction: The Boks will edge it by a tight margin
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