New Zealand v South Africa in Port Elizabeth (Tri Nations)
Venue: Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium
Referee: George Clancy (Ireland)
The last test played by South Africa in this seaside city was in 2006 against Scotland. South Africa won 29-15. South Africa lost to the 1974 British Lions 9-26 in this city but generally since 1994 the city has hosted nations below the top level of test rugby, and then few and far between. For the city to host a major test time like the All Blacks is a major coup.
Prior to the 1970’s Port Elizabeth was a regular host to visiting touring sides. South Africa’s first test match in 1891 was played here. Port Elizabeth was a regular graveyard for visiting All Blacks sides right up to 1970. New Zealand lost there on all four tours from 1928 to 1970.
The expectations on this South African side are now enormous. They have lost their last three Tri Nations game this season including a 9-14 loss to Australia at home last weekend. That was to be the match that was supposed to turn South Africa’s fortunes around. It heralded the return of a number of top players after recovering from injuries. The Springbox just did not handle the wet weather in the second half. A win to South Africa will be expected today buy the local fans. Nothing less will do.
New Zealand may have played into South Africa’s hands by sending a rather make-shift side to the republic. Nine top All Blacks have been left behind in New Zealand. Graham Henry is giving some of his second string players (and second-string combinations) a chance to prove their worth. For many players it’s a last opportunity to impress. And impress the could well do. New Zealand has a good record when fielding such sides.
It certainly is going to be a most interesting clash. The pressure on the Springbox could well tell. The New Zealanders will be able to witness first hand what home pressure can do to the national side. They will be facing the same situation come September.
Last Five Encounters
30.07.2011 New Zealand 40-7 in Wellington (Tri Nations)
21.08.2010 New Zealand 29-22 in Johannesburg (Tri Nations)
17.07.2010 New Zealand 31-17 in Wellington (Tri Nations)
10.07.2010 New Zealand 21-12 in Auckland (Tri Nations)
12.09.2009 South Africa 32-29 in Hamilton (Tri Nations)
GWC Rugby Rankings
World Table-New Zealand 1st, South Africa 3rd
IRB Ranking Points
New Zealand 93.26, South Africa 84.08
Prediction: It will be close. New Zealand just squeak in!
15 Patrick Lambie, 14 JP Pietersen, 13 Jaque Fourie, 12 Jean de Villiers, 11 Bryan Habana, 10 Morné Steyn, 9 Fourie du Preez, 8 Pierre Spies, 7 Willem Alberts, 6 Heinrich Brüssow, 5 Victor Matfield, 4 Bakkies Botha, 3 Jannie du Plessis, 2 Bismarck du Plessis, 1 Gurthrö Steenkamp.
16 John Smit, 17 Tendai Mtawarira, 18 CJ van der Linde, 19 Danie Rossouw, 20 Ashley Johnson, 21 Francois Hougaard, 22 Butch James.
Head Coach: Pieter de Villiers
15 Israel Dagg, 14 Isaia Toeava, 13 Richard Kahui, 12 Sonny Bill Williams, 11 Hosea Gear, 10 Colin Slade, 9 James Cowan, 8 Liam Messam, 7 Adam Thomson, 6 Jerome Kaino, 5 Alistair Williams, 4 Samuel Whitelock, 3 John Afoa, 2 Keven Mealamu (capt) 1 Tony Woodcock.
16 Andrew Hore, 17 Benjamin Franks, 18 Jarrad Hoeata, 19 Victor Vito, 20 Andrew Ellis, 21 Piri Weepu, 22 Cory Jane.
Head Coach: Graham Henry