History and pride at stake

2006-09-07 15:35

Johannesburg - The Tri-Nations has been won but sentiment and pride will be at stake when the Springboks take on Australia in their Tri-Nations encounter at Ellis Park on Saturday.

The Springboks will want to continue their impressive home winning record against the Wallabies who last won a game in South Africa in the winter of 2000 and last won in Johannesburg in 1963.

Coming off a hard earned 21-20 victory over the All Blacks last Saturday, the confident mood in the Springbok camp could be the determining factor as the home side are determined to continue their upward curve.

Furthermore the Springboks will want to introduce debutant fullback JP Pietersen to international rugby with a victory while Bok coach Jake White has gambled with starting centre Wynand Olivier on the wing.

The Australians have publicly stated that they will be targeting Olivier, whom they believe is the weakest link in the Bok line-up, while flyhalf Andre Pretorius will also come in for some special attention after his Herculean performance on Saturday.

Key to the Boks winning on Saturday will be the forwards which White has masterfully not tampered with after they outwitted and outplayed the All Blacks creating the backbone for a memorable victory last Saturday.

Formidable team

On the flipside the Springboks will have to do more than just arrive at Ellis Park on Saturday to gain a victory as the Wallabies have assembled a formidable team for the encounter.

Such is the Wallabies confidence of breaking their drought in South Africa that they arrived more than a week before the match to acclimatise to playing at altitude.

History may be against Australia on Saturday but the Wallabies will be buoyed by a few factors.

Twenty-two-year-old prop Benn Robinson will be the second debutant on the field while centre Stirling Mortlock and lock Nathan Sharpe will both be making their 50th appearance in a Wallaby jersey.

"We know we are in for an extremely tough match and we will need to produce a really strong eighty minutes to beat them. We will have had eight days preparing at altitude before the Test, so we won't be using altitude as an excuse for a poor performance on Saturday," said Wallaby coach John Connolly.

The Wallabies have also handed winger Cameron Shepherd his first start in a Test match with former SA Under-21 captain Clyde Rathbone on the other wing hoping to have a better time on the field on which he lifted the IRB Under-21 world title with some members of the Bok team in 2002.

The Australians have failed to win an away match in this year's Tri-Nations and that is a factor that Connolly and his men will want to put an end to come Saturday.

At the end of the 80 minutes on Saturday the record books will be rewritten, whether in favour of a revived Springbok team or refreshed Wallabies team. But the outcome will have nothing to do with history or sentiment but rather who produces the better rugby within 80 minutes.


South Africa: JP Pietersen, Akona Ndungane, Jaque Fourie, Jean de Villiers, Wynand Olivier, Andre Pretorius, Fourie du Preez, Pedrie Wannenburg, AJ Venter, Pierre Spies, Victor Matfield, Johann Muller, BJ Botha, John Smit, Os du Randt.

Bench: Chiliboy Ralepelle, Lawrence Sephaka, Albert van den Berg, Jacques Cronje, Ruan Pienaar, Butch James, Breyton Paulse.

Australia: Chris Latham, Clyde Rathbone, Stirling Mortlock, Matt Giteau, Cameron Shepherd, Stephen Larkham, George Gregan (capt), Benn Robinson, Jeremy Paul, Rodney Blake, Nathan Sharpe, Dan Vickerman, Rocky Elsom, Phil Waugh, Wycliff Palu.

Bench: Tai McIsaac, Al Baxter, Mark Chisholm, George Smith, Brett Sheehan, Mark Gerrard, Scott Staniforth.