Australia v South Africa in Pretoria (Tri Nations, Mandela Cup)
Venue: Loftus Versfeld Stadium
Referee: Alain Rolland (Ireland)
The Tri Nations competition has already been decided with New Zealand's last weekend against South Africa in Johannesburg. What a shame we now have, with perhaps the exception of the Bledisloe Cup match, three more tests without a real purpose.
Read little into the last encounter between these teams. South Africa were a dispirited side in Brisbane, having lost two games in New Zealand and with it little hope of retaining the Trophy. In front of a patriotic Pretorian crowd, who will be jumping out of their skins to support local hero Victor Matfield playing his 100th test, the South Africans will already be five points ahead at the kick off. At this altitude strange things can happen to the ball. That is why Francois Steyn is back in the side after time in France. Is he up to this intensity of international rugby? We'll see.
Australia is a team still developing. There forward pack is a worry. There are a number of new faces in this team as Robbie Deans keeps an eye on the future as well as on the present balance sheet. The sheet doesn't look so balanced. For how long will fans be patient whilst the work in progress continues?
Both teams look even certainly as far as the questions and the doubts are concerned. Neither wants last place in the Tri Nations. Perhaps there is something to play for in Pretoria after all.
Centurions both-soon. Smit and Matfield together in training. Image thanks to www.planetrugby.com
Last Five Encounters
24.07.2010 Australia 30-13 in Brisbane (Tri Nations, Mandela Cup)
05.09.2009 Australia 21-6 in Brisbane (Tri Nations, Mandela Cup)
29.08.2009 South Africa 32-25 in Perth (Tri Nations, Mandela Cup)
08.08.2009 South Africa 29-17 in Capetown (Tri Nations, Mandela Cup)
30.08.2008 South Africa 53-8 in Johannesburg (Tri Nations, Mandela Cup)
Last Five in Pretoria
30.07.2005 South Africa 22-16 (Tri Nations)
23.08.1997 South Africa 61-22 (Tri Nations)
13.07.1963 South Africa 14-3
Amazingly, only three test matches played in Pretoria between these two teams. Most significant was Australia's disastrous match there in 1997 when the Springbox tore them apart.
GWC Rugby Rankings
World Table-Australia 2nd, South Africa 3rd
IRB Rankings-South Africa 2nd (86.15), Australia 3rd (85.11
Prediction: Very close. A smidgen to the hosts. South Africa by one point.
15 Francois Steyn, 14 JP Pietersen, 13 Jaque Fourie, 12 Jean de Villiers, 11 Bryan Habana, 10 Morne Steyn, 9 Francois Hougaard, 8 Pierre Spies, 7 Juan Smith, 6 Schalk Burger, 5 Victor Matfield, 4 Flip van der Merwe, 3 Janie du Plessis, 2 John Smit, 1 Gurtho Steenkamp.
16 Chiliboy Ralepelle, 17 CJ van der Linde, 18 Danie Rossouw, 19 Ryan Kankowski, 20 Ricky Januarie, 21 Butch James, 22 Juan de Jongh.
Head Coach: Piter de Villiers
15 Kurtley Beale, 14 James O'Connor, 13 Adam Ashley-Cooper, 12 Matthew Giteau, 11 Drew Mitchell, 10 Quade Cooper, 9 Will Genia, 8 Richard Brown, 7 David Pocock, 6 Rocky Elsom, Capt. 5 Nathan Sharpe, 4 Dean Mumm, 3 Salesi Ma'afu, 2 Saia Faainga, 1 Benn Robinson.
16 Stephen Moore, 17 James Slipper, 18 Ben McCalman, 19 Scott Higginbotham, 20 Luke Burgess, 21 Berrick Barnes, 22 Anthony Faainga.
Head Coach: Robbie Deans