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Preview: South Africa v Australia

27th September 2013 09:53

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It was 1992 when Australia last beat the Boks at Newlands, with the large majority expecting their Cape Town drought to continue on Saturday.

Head coach Ewen McKenzie was in attendance on that day 21 years ago and he will no doubt be hoping for a repeat in an odd week for Australia.

Much of the past few days has been dominated by European club rugby's ongoing mess and more recently the decision from Jake White to exit the Brumbies. White's move, which was made by phone from South Africa, stunned not only the Springbok press conference taking place at that time but also the rugby world as a whole.

Poor timing, especially with Brumbies players seemingly finding out via social media. One can imagine it has irked their eight starting Wallabies.

Brumbies fans' vents have now been added to by Clyde Rathbone - a player White was seemingly close with since the Junior World Cup of 2002 - having written an excellent article on how he was "interrupted by a text message that told of Jake White's resignation" while jogging. That's poor.

Why White resigned remains unconfirmed, but the use of family reasons was given - due to him having two sons who live in the Republic. However, many wonder if he would be leaving for such circumstances if he had been picked over McKenzie for the Wallabies' top job.

So White's next destination remains up in the air, with positions at the Sharks, Stormers and also Clermont being spoken of. International rugby was clearly his main objective, but as we know the Australian Rugby Union opted for McKenzie, who now has a real job on his hands.

With that we move on to the size of McKenzie's task. He may have fine memories of '92 but his players need to banish that Brisbane barrage. Heyneke Meyer's pack dominated the Wallabies up front at Suncorp and shutting down a repeat at source is their only hope.

It is obvious the visitors won't require a team-talk in Cape Town but if they do then retaining the Nelson Mandela Plate for the fourth consecutive year is surely good enough.

"The challenge for us to make that happen, we look forward to the Test match and we look forward to going out there and try to knock them out of their rhythm," McKenzie revealed.

"No one will back us but that sits fine. Two wins in a row would be significant for this team, especially winning here. We've got an opportunity to be a thorn in what they are trying to do."

South Africa thinks not as the Boks look to set up a winner-take-all game next week against New Zealand, with that Bismarck du Plessis dismissal still stinging many in the country. He is on the bench this week in a pre-planned decision by Meyer, as Adriaan Strauss returns.

Fourie du Preez is their other alteration while Australia are boosted by the return of captain James Horwill in what is a significant lift. James O'Connor meanwhile begins his exile so Tevita Kuridrani and Joe Tomane (for the injured Nick Cummins) come in to the line-up.

Can the unlikely happen then? On paper it seems not as a home win built off the same ingredients that blended so well in their earlier meeting is expected. Halting this immense Bok pack is unlikely for Australia and from there the platform is laid for Du Preez and Morne Steyn to dictate. Net result, little front-foot ball for Nic White and Quade Cooper in what promises to be a difficult 80 minutes to end a tough week for the Brumbies in their side.

Ones to watch:

For South Africa: Running out on his home turf to what will be a big reception is going to be Eben Etzebeth. Alongside Flip van der Merwe, this second-row duo have been doing the unseen work that helps their back-row trio grab the headlines. Etzebeth is set to thrive in his familiar Cape Town surroundings so expect plenty of carries in an abrasive performance.

For Australia: Plenty of Brumbies on show this week and one having the spotlight on him more than others will be Tevita Kuridrani. His chance has arrived due to James O'Connor's absence - with Adam Ashley-Cooper moving to wing - so he starts alongside team-mate Christian Lealiifano. Kuridrani will offer a direct midfield option but will he get the ball to run?

Head-to-head: South Africa will be looking for their set-piece to get on top and of course they will target the Australian front-row. Etzebeth and Van der Merwe can assist the likes of Tendai Mtawarira and Jannie du Plessis with their immense strength so it will be a difficult game for James Slipper and Ben Alexander. It won't get any easier later in the contest too as Bismarck du Plessis, Gurthrö Steenkamp and Coenie Oosthuizen wait in the wings.

Previous results:

2013: South Africa won 38-12, Brisbane
2012: South Africa won 31-8, Pretoria
2012: Australia won 26-19, Perth
2011: Australia won 11-9, Wellington
2011: Australia won 14-9, Durban
2011: Australia won 39-20, Sydney
2010: Australia won 41-39, Bloemfontein
2010: South Africa won 44-31, Pretoria
2010: Australia won 30-13, Brisbane
2009: Australia won 21-6, Brisbane

Prediction: Too much power on the home side. Springboks by 15!

The teams:

South Africa: 15 Zane Kirchner, 14 Willie le Roux, 13 JJ Engelbrecht, 12 Jean de Villiers (captain), 11 Bryan Habana, 10 Morné Steyn, 9 Fourie du Preez, 8 Duane Vermeulen, 7 Willem Alberts, 6 Francois Louw, 5 Flip van der Merwe, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Jannie du Plessis, 2 Adriaan Strauss, 1 Tendai Mtawarira.
Replacements: 16 Bismarck du Plessis, 17 Gurthrö Steenkamp, 18 Coenie Oosthuizen, 19 Juandré Kruger, 20 Siya Kolisi, 21 Ruan Pienaar 22 Pat Lambie, 23 Jan Serfontein.

Australia: 15 Israel Folau, 14 Adam Ashley-Cooper, 13 Tevita Kuridrani, 12 Christian Lealiifano, 11 Joe Tomane, 10 Quade Cooper, 9 Nic White, 8 Ben Mowen, 7 Michael Hooper, 6 Scott Fardy, 5 James Horwill (c), 4 Rob Simmons, 3 Ben Alexander, 2 Stephen Moore, 1 James Slipper.
Replacements: 16 Saia Fainga'a, 17 Benn Robinson, 18 Sekope Kepu, 19 Sitaleki Timani, 20 Ben McCalman, 21 Will Genia, 22 Matt Toomua, 23 Chris Feauai-Sautia.

Date: September 28
Venue: Newlands, Cape Town
Kick-off: 17:00 (16:00 GMT)
Referee: Jérôme Garcès (France)
Assistant referees: Nigel Owens (Wales), Pascal Gauzère (France)
Television match official: Graham Hughes (England)

By Adam Kyriacou

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