South Africa v Ireland in Dublin
Venue: Aviva Stadium
Referee: Nigel Owens (Wales)
South Africa arrived in Europe last November having won the Tri Nations, winning over New Zealand and Australia. That reputation was squashed by an amazing Irish side at Croke Park. South Africa went on to play an unforgettable November season with some very ordinary play and results.
The 2010 season has not been a lot better for South Africa. They crushed a lethargic French side in June and then wobbled their way over an equally tired looking Italian side. Things went from bad to worse with a solitary 44-31 win over Australia in Pretoria against losses in the other five Tri Nation tests. It wasn't look good for South Africa 12 months out from the 2011 Rugby World Cup.
Ireland will have fresher legs especially on the international front. A disappointing 6 Nations 2010 campaign saw Ireland fall from the giddy heights of a Grand Slam in 2009. There is an experienced look about this Irish side even without regulars John Hayes and Lions captain Paul O'Connell. There will be a special occasion when, providing he is required, 33 year old Ronan O'Gara will trot out onto the new stadium park off the bench to register his 100th test match for Ireland. As well, this will be the first international rugby test match at the new Aviva Stadium.
South Africa arrive in Europe with a worrying injury list. Put that on top of an already out of form side and they look ripe for Irish pickings. Kirchner is playing out of position, Basson is a new cap, as is Stegmann, and Victor Matfield is a new captain. Add to this the fact that coach de Villiers only just survived an inquiry after his teams worst Tri Nations record in history and we have a wobbly Springbox side indeed.
Last Five Encounters
28.11.2009 Ireland 15-10 in Dublin
11.11.2006 Ireland 32-15 in Dublin
13.11.2004 Ireland 17-12 in Dublin
19.06.2004 South Africa 26-17 in Capetown
12.06.2004 South Africa 31-17 in Bloemfontein
South Africa won last in Dublin in 2000, 28-18, having lost the last three tests in that city.
GWC Rugby Rankings
World Table-South Africa 3rd, Ireland 6th
South Africa 3rd (85.22). Ireland 5th (82.03)
Prediction: Ireland by 4 points
15 Rob Kearney, 14 Tommy Bowe, 13 Brian O'Driscoll, Capt. 12 Gordon D'Arcy, 11 Luke Fitzgerald, 10 Jonathan Sexton, 9 Eoin Reddan, 8 Jamie Heaslip, 7 David Wallace, 6 Stephen Ferris, 5 Mick O'Driscoll, 4 Donncha O'Callaghan, 3 Tony Buckley, 2 Rory Best, 1 Cian Healy.
Replacements: 16 Sean Cronin, 17 Tom Court, 18 Donncha Ryan, 19 Denis Leamy, 20 Peter Stringer, 21 Ronan O'Gara, 22 Keith Earls.
Head Coach: Declan Kidney
15 Gio Aplon, 14 Bjorn Basson, 13 Zane Kirchner, 12 Jean de Villiers, 11 Bryan Habana, 10 Morné Steyn, 9 Ruan Pienaar, 8 Pierre Spies, 7 Juan Smith, 6 Deon Stegmann, 5 Victor Matfield (c), 4 Bakkies Botha, 3 Jannie du Plessis, 2 Bismarck du Plessis, 1 Tendai Mtawarira.
Replacements: 16 Chiliboy Ralepelle, 17 CJ van der Linde, 18 Flip van der Merwe, 19 Keegan Daniel, 20 François Hougaard, 21 Adi Jacobs, 22 Patrick Lambie.
Head Coach: Pieter de Villiers