Why Boks may need big Oz win

Heyneke Meyer (Gallo Images)
Heyneke Meyer (Gallo Images)

Cape Town - South Africa beat Australia 28-8 in last year’s corresponding Castle Rugby Championship clash at Newlands ... they must aim to put away these foes convincingly all over again on Saturday (17:05 kickoff).

Coach Heyneke Meyer will obviously target simply winning as first priority, especially as the Springboks - and their immediate Wallaby foes - are still mathematically in with a chance of claiming the title, even if that scenario stretching into the final round of matches requires a shock denial of All Black triumph by the underdog Pumas in Argentina a few hours after the Capetonian tussle.

As mentioned before, in a separate sideshow the Wallabies will leapfrog the Boks to No 2 in the world if they prevail at Newlands, so that is just another strong incentive for Jean de Villiers and company to do the business, thus avenging their narrow loss in Perth earlier in the tournament.

But at the very least, South Africa must seek the psychological satisfaction from here of not being forced into a third-place finish in the Championship: that would be a regression in fortune from last year, when they were comfortable runners-up to the imperious New Zealanders with the Aussies a distant third.

Even if the Wallabies lose a tight contest on Saturday - say by banking a losing bonus point and also denying the Boks four tries - they will stay in with a fair shout of eclipsing the Boks to second, perhaps figuring with some merit that their beating the Pumas in Mendoza on the final weekend is more likely than SA knocking over the All Blacks at Ellis Park.

New Zealand, after all, have won each of their last two Championship meetings with South Africa on our turf, whilst in last year’s Argentinean-staged clash between the Pumas and Wallabies, the Aussies romped to a 54-17 full-house win.

At the moment, the Boks and Wallabies are locked on 10 points each, six adrift of the All Blacks, and some tables in this country are incorrectly reflecting Meyer’s charges as occupying second spot due to their better points differential to the Australians - plus four as opposed to their minus 23.

Officially, though, Australia are second because under tournament rules the first tiebreaker is total number of wins in the competition - at present two each, so that doesn’t do the separation trick - and the second tiebreaker is number of wins against the team level on log points.

By virtue of their controversial 24-23 victory Down Under, that status is currently 1-0 to the Wallabies so it is the key determinant - it is certainly how the table is being exhibited on the official SANZAR website for the competition.

Were the Boks to gain four log points on Saturday via a routine victory and the Wallabies bank a losing bonus point, the gap on the table would be three points, giving the Australians hope that they could yet vault back cheekily to second in the final round if the All Blacks extend their mini-hoodoo over South Africa in Johannesburg and they win their own last fixture in South America.

The dream result for South Africa this weekend, of course, would be to prevail with a 5-0 outcome in log points, bettering their try count at Newlands from three last season (Adriaan Strauss, Zane Kirchner, Willie le Roux) to four or more this time.

If that were to occur, it would also draw the Boks to within one tantalising point of the All Blacks, perhaps causing just a flutter of consternation for Richie McCaw’s outfit as they weigh up their own date with the Pumas in La Plata, in the early hours of Sunday morning (00:10) in South African time terms ...

*Follow our chief writer on Twitter: @RobHouwing

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