Saturday, September 4, 2010

TRI NATIONS RUGBY: Australia Battle South Africa Again

Australia v South Africa in Bloemfontein (Tri Nations; Mandela Plate)

Venue: Vodacom Park

Referee: Wayne Barnes (England)

South Africa will play their final game test rugby in this series today. They won against Australia in Pretoria last Saturday. Both sides have won against each other so far this year so this game should settle the winner of the Mandela Plate at least. But are there other issues on the minds of both players and coaches prior to this test match.

Despite their win last week the South Africans are having a worrying form slide which started on the Northern Hemisphere tour last November. Prior to that they were decisive Tri Nations winners for 2009. Players have lost form, the team is no coherent and faith in their coach, Pieter de Villiers is slipping. Another poor performance, or worse still a loss, could herald in a new coach and new players for this years November Northern Hemisphere tour. It would be perilously close to the 2011 Rugby World Cup but a proud rugby nation like South Africa has a zero tolerance level for a team and coach that under performs.

Australia coach Robbie Deans has hinted to his team that players who don't measure up soon will find themselves out of Rugby World Cup contention. Perhaps the Australians are beginning to ask questions of their coach as well.

2009 Peter De Villiers Robbie-Deans-hand-off_2348303[1]
Is the writing on the wall for these two coaches? Images thanks to planet-rugby

So the scene is set not for whomever is the winning team today but whom may the losers be.

Last Five Encounters
28.08.2010 South Africa 44-31 in Pretoria ( Tri Nations; Mandela Plate
24.07.2010 Australia 30-13 in Brisbane (Tri Nations, Mandela Plate)
05.09.2009 Australia 21-6 in Brisbane (Tri Nations, Mandela Plate)
29.08.2009 South Africa 32-25 in Perth (Tri Nations, Mandela Plate)
08.08.2009 South Africa 29-17 in Capetown (Tri Nations, Mandela Plate)

Last Encounters In Bloemfontein
03.08.1996 South Africa 25-19 (Tri Nations)
21.09.1969 South Africa 19-8
02.09.1933 Australia 15-4

Few and far between appearances by the Australians in this inland city. The only win being back in 1933.

GWC Rugby Rankings
World Table-South Africa 2nd, Australia 3rd

IRB Rugby Rankings
2nd-South Africa (86.75), 3rd Australia (84.52)

Prediction: South Africa by 7 points



South Africa
F Steyn (Racing Metro, France); JP Pietersen (Natal Sharks), J Fourie (Western Province Stormers), J de Villiers (Wstern Province Stormers), B Habana (Western Province Stormers); M Steyn (Blue Bulls), Francois Hougaard (Blue Bulls); G Steenkamp (Blue Bulls), J Smit, Capt. (Natal Sharks), J du Plessis (Natal Sharks); D Rossouw (Blue Bulls), V Matfield (Blue Bulls); S Burger (Western Province Stormers), J Smith (Free State Cheetahs), P Spies (Blue Bulls)
C Ralepelle (Blue Bulls), CJ van der Linde (Free State Cheetahs), F van der Merwe (Blue Bulls), R Kankowski (Natal Sharks), R Januarie (Western Province Stormers), J de Jongh (Western Province Stormers), G Aplon (Western Province Stormers).
Head Coach: Pieter de Villiers


K Beale (NSW Waratahs); J O'Connor (WA Western Force), A Ashley-Cooper (ACT Brumbies), M Giteau (ACT Brumbies), D Mitchell (NSW Waratahs); Q Cooper (Queensland Reds), W Genia (Queensland Reds); B Robinson (NSW Waratahs), S Moore (ACT Brumbies), S Ma'afu (ACT Brumbies), M Chisholm (ACT Brumbies), N Sharpe (WA Western Force), R Elsom, Capt. (ACT Brumbies) D Pocock (WA Western Force), B McCalman (WA Western Force).
S Faingaa (Queensland Reds), J Slipper (Queensland Reds), D Mumm (NSW Waratahs), R Brown (WA Western Force), L Burgess (NSW Waratahs), B Barnes (NSW Waratahs), A Faingaa (Queensland Reds).
Head Coach: Robbie Deans

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