Wallabies looking to break Springbok spirits

Australia will look to win their first match on the highveld in 45 years when they face South Africa in the second of their back-to-back Tests in the Tri-Nations Rugby competition on Saturday.

The Wallabies have not won in Johannesburg since 1963 and victory over the world champions, to go with their 27-15 win in Durban a week ago, will see them go top of the competition points table.

They still have a game to play after this weekend, against New Zealand, in Brisbane on September 13, making them favourites to win this year’s competition.

Wallabies boss Robbie Deans though knows that despite his team being in a good position and facing a Springbok side that has lost three Tri-Nations matches on the trot, winning at the formerly named Ellis Park will not come easy.

“South Africa have got one more shot at it in this year’s Tri-Nations,” said Deans on Thursday.

“If they can take it (the match), they can park the rest of the tournament and move forward a lot more positively towards their end of season tour preparations.

“Ask yourself how you’d feel in their position? There’s no doubt they’ll be up for it.” South Africa, while out of the running for the title, do indeed have a lot to play for.

Their coach, Peter de Villiers, is receiving plenty of criticism for his expansive style of rugby and, as world champions, there’s a lot of pride at stake. Also on the line is the Boks’ almost unbeatable reputation at the famous ground.

Captain Victor Matfield said Thursday his side badly wanted to end their Tri-Nations on a good note.

“We need to win this match for South Africa, for the coaching staff and all involved with the Springboks,” said Matfield.

“One thing we don’t want is to get together for the end of season tour (to Europe) and still be asking ourselves questions about where we are and what we’re doing wrong. We also need to regain our confidence,” he added.

De Villiers said he was confident his players were close to properly executing the game-plan he wants them to play.

“I know what these guys are capable of and what they can do on the field. I hope and pray that that breakthrough happens this weekend.

“The guys must simply accept the responsibility that goes with the rugby we want to play, and that’s making the right decisions and playing what is in front of them.”

De Villiers has made just two enforced changes to the side that lost in Durban last weekend.

Brian Mujati comes in at tighthead prop for the suspended CJ Van der Linde, while on the right wing Odwa Ndungane replaces JP Pietersen.

Deans has made a surprising five changes to his team, two of those due to injuries.

Timana Tahu replaces the injured Berrick Barnes at centre, while Hugh McMenimen takes the place of the injured Dan Vickermann.

In other changes, Adam Ashley-Cooper comes into the side at fullback for Drew Mitchell, Phil Waugh starts ahead of George Smith and Tatafu Polota-Nau replaces Stephen Moore.

“The match has got huge significance for us,” said Deans.

“Both in terms of momentum for the rest of the Tri-Nations, but also as far as the development of the group is concerned.

“By winning in Durban we have presented ourselves with a wonderful opportunity to win back-to-back Tests in South Africa. We owe it to everyone in Australia to make the most of this opportunity.”


South Africa (15-1)

Conrad Jantjes; Odwa Ndungane, Adrian Jacobs, Jean de Villiers, Jongi Nokwe; Butch James, Fourie du Preez; Pierre Spies, Juan Smith, Schalk Burger; Victor Matfield (capt), Andries Bekker; Brian Mujati, Bismarck du Plessis, Tendai Mtawarira.

Replacements: Adriaan Strauss, Jannie du Plessis, Danie Rossouw, Luke Watson, Ricky Januarie, Ruan Pienaar, Percy Montgomery

Australia (15-1)

Adam Ashley-Coope

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