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Preview: South Africa v Namibia

21st September 2011 14:30

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bryan habana

Habana: Chasing try-scoring record

The Springboks will be out to bank maximum points against Namibia when the two teams go head to head at North Harbour Stadium on Thursday.

The defending champions will look to back up their 49-3 dispatching of Fiji last Saturday - arguably one of the most clinical performances of Rugby World Cup 2011 - with another flawless victory.

What worked against Fiji last week, when South Africa played a more fluent passing game, should also work against Namibia - a team that have conceded 12 tries in their two matches thus far in the tournament.

South Africa have won their last nine RWC matches and are expected to equal their record of 10, a run that started in 1995 and was ended by Australia in 1999.

The Boks have only lost one of their RWC pool matches - against England 25-6 in 2003 - and swamped the Welwitschias 105-13 in Cape Town four years ago in their only encounter with their African neighbours .

The comparison is stark. The Springboks are two-time World Cup champions, while Namibia have yet to win a single RWC match and have been hammered 49-25 by Fiji and 49-12 by Samoa at this tournament.

Be that as it may, Namibia skipper Jacques Burger has fired a warning to the Boks saying his team won't roll over so easily. South Africa may have hit triple-figures the only time they played, but the humble Namibians will have a point to prove.

Many of them them play in the Republic - be it club rugby or provincial rugby - and plenty of pride will be at stake. They are yet to register log points in the tournament and will view an honourable defeat to the defending champions as a moral victory.

"I really believe in my team and we can give South Africa a good show," said Burger.

"You've got to believe you can compete against them and you've got to believe you can beat them even though the odds are against you a lot of the time. You've got to be up for it every time.

"We've got to keep the ball as much as possible. A team like South Africa, if you give them a lot of ball, they're going to score a lot of points against you. That's just the way they play."

The Springboks show five changes with Gio Aplon and Bryan Habana on the wings, Francois Hougaard at scrum-half with Fourie du Preez on the bench, while flanker Willem Alberts replaces Heinrich Brussow and prop CJ van der Linde gets his first start of the tournament at tighthead.

Locks Victor Matfield and Johann Muller, centre Jean de Villiers and fly-half Butch James were not considered for the match.

In making six changes to the team that lost to Samoa, coach Johan Diergaardt named the most experienced side Namibia have fielded in Test rugby, boasting a total of 264 caps.

Jacques Nieuwenhuis, who scored a memorable try against Ireland at Rugby World Cup 2007, has been recalled to number eight and will be joined by Marius Visser, Bertus O'Callaghan, Nico Esterhuyse and Tinus du Plessis in the forwards, while Heine Bock comes in on the left wing.

While the Springboks respect their Namibian opponents, they also see Thursday's Pool D World Cup match as a last opportunity to fine-tune their game for more brutal battles.

"From our point of view, we realise that (Namibia views this match as their final) and we respect that in them," said South Africa assistant coach Gary Gold.

"We know their coaches as well and we know their coaching structures are very good at the moment."

Ones to watch:

For South Africa: If, as expected, the Springboks cash in with the points, former IRB Player of the Year Bryan Habana could become the all-time Springbok record try-scorer, an mark he currently shares with Joost van der Westhuizen on 38 tries.

For Namibia: The centre pairing of Danie van Wyk and Piet van Zyl have surprised and impressed many who have seen them in action at the World Cup. If they not scoring tries, they creating them and much of the same will be required against the Boks.

Head to head: The Springbok forwards were on top of their game against Fiji and should they lay the same platform, it could become a long day for the Namibians. But the Namibians will look to give as good as they get and while they may not carry the same experience of technical expertise of their opponents they will certainly go down fighting.

Previous result:

2007: South Africa won 105-13 at Newlands

Prediction: No one is giving the 19th-ranked Namibians a hope in stemming the surging green and gold tide. Anything less than 50 points will be considered an average showing by the Boks. South Africa to win big!

The teams:

South Africa: 15 Pat Lambie, 14 Gio Aplon, 13 Jaque Fourie, 12 Frans Steyn, 11 Bryan Habana, 10 Morné Steyn , 9 Francois Hougaard, 8 Pierre Spies, 7 Schalk Burger, 6 Willem Alberts, 5 Danie Rossouw, 4 Bakkies Botha, 3 CJ van der Linde, 2 John Smit (c), 1 Gurthrö Steenkamp.
Replacements: 16 Chiliboy Ralepelle, 17 Tendai Mtawarira, 18 Francois Louw, 19 Heinrich Brüssow, 20 Fourie du Preez, 21 Ruan Pienaar, 22 Juan de Jongh.

Namibia: 15 Chrysander Botha, 14 Danie Dames, 13 Danie van Wyk, 12 Piet van Zyl, 11 Heine Bock, 10 Theuns Kotze, 9 Eugene Jantjies, 8 Jacques Nieuwenhuis, 7 Jacques Burger (c), 6 Tinus du Plessis, 5 Nico Esterhuyse, 4 Heinz Koll, 3 Marius Visser, 2 Bertus O'Callaghan, 1 Johnnie Redelinghuys.
Replacements: 16 Hugo Horn, 17 Jane du Toit, 18 PJ van Lill, 19 Rohan Kitshoff, 20 Ryan de la Harpe, 21 Darryl de la Harpe, 22 Conrad Marais.

Date: Thursday, 22 September
Kick-off: 20:00 (08:00 GMT)
Venue: North Harbour Stadium, Albany
Weather forecast: Cloudy with a 20 per cent chance of rain, a high of 16°C, dropping to 11°C.
Referee: George Clancy (Ireland)
Assistant referees: Bryce Lawrence (New Zealand), Tim Hayes (Wales)
TMO: Graham Hughes (England)