Australia will host South Africa in the third round of the 2018 Rugby Championship. Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane will be the venue, a city in which Australia has won 4 consecutive tests.
The Wallabies have been handily beaten in the first two rounds by New Zealand, losing by 25 points at home and by 28 away. However, Australia didn`t play that bad. This statement is probably surprising considering the big losses, but it was more of a case of New Zealand playing at a very high level. Australia played well for stretches but every time they let their guard down they were brutally punished. The team will look to assess its real level in this match against the Boks and there are reasons for optimism especially after the club teams showed progress in Super Rugby this year.
South Africa entered the tournament with high hopes after replacing the useless manager Allister Coetzee with Rassie Erasmus early in the year, and after a solid test series in the Summer against England (2 wins, 1 loss). Indeed the Boks looked pretty good in the opening RC game against Argentina, which they won by 12 points and should have probably won it by 20. It wasn`t a fantastic display, but it was a good outing. Hoerver, the Boks were embarrassed in the next round in Argentina, losing by 13 points after a performance filled with errors. It was a dreadful result which questioned if any real progress was made by the team, and if the new coach is truly up to the task.Bet on Australia vs. South Africa and claim your 100% (100 Eur) bonus at Ohmbet!
Team news & lineups:
Australia will miss David Pocock, a massive blow, but on the other hand they get back arguably their most impactful player, Israel Folau. Also Kurtley Beal has been moved at No.10 to make way for Matt Toomua at No.12, leaving Bernard Foley on the bench, a move which has potential to be very interesting.
South Africa’s coach Rassie Erasmus surprised everybody with the amount of changes made for this clash. The Boks have made 7 changes to the lineup that lost in Argentina, reshuffling the front row, changing the midfield duo and also replacing Handre Pollard with Elton Jantjies. The Boks will also miss one of their most important players, as Malcolm Marx has been ruled out with an injury.
Australia: 15 Israel Folau, 14 Dane Haylett-Petty, 13 Reece Hodge, 12 Matt Toomua, 11 Marika Koroibete, 10 Kurtley Beale, 9 Will Genia, 8 Pete Samu, 7 Michael Hooper (c), 6 Lukhan Tui, 5 Adam Coleman, 4 Rory Arnold, 3 Allan Alaalatoa, 2 Tatafu Polota-Nau, 1 Scott Sio
South Africa: 15 Willie le Roux, 14 Makazole Mapimpi, 13 Jesse Kriel, 12 Damian de Allende, 11 Aphiwe Dyantyi, 10 Elton Jantjies, 9 Francois de Klerk, 8 Warren Whiteley, 7 Pieter-Steph du Toit, 6 Siyamthanda Kolisi (c), 5 Franco Mostert, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Frans Malherbe, 2 Mbongeni Mbonambi, 1 Steven Kitshoff
Last season both Rugby Championship meetings between the two sides ended with draws, but each team would have deserved to win at home. Overall Australia won 7 of the last 9 home meetings against the Boks, with one draw and one South Africa win.
Home court advantage should be decisive this time as well, especially with the Boks being traditional poor travelers in the Rugby Championship, as highlighted by their road record against Australia.
Overall the Wallabies just seem to have a better and more cohesive lineup ahead of this clash. South Africa has made a lot of changes and many of them do not inspire confidence. Jantjies at No.10 could be a liability – even if Pollard was dreadful with his kicking in the last two games, when it comes to open play he is a better and more consistent performer than Jantjies, who has always been shaky in a Springbok shirt.
The Wallabies should be the better team when it comes to the wide game and running rugby, and they should also dominate the breakdown even without Pocock. In the scrum you would also fancy Australia to at least be competitive, after they won 100% of their own scrums in 6 of the last 7 matches (41 of 43) and after South Africa was bested in the scrum by Argentina two weeks ago. The Boks will hope that the lineup changes will help, but there`s no reason to expect them to have a decisive advantage in the forward battle.
The weather could have an impact as well. Rain is expected at game time and if that will be the case, Australia should have a massive advantage. Not only did they train in these conditions all week, but it would also favor a kicking game, an aspect in which the Wallabies are highly superior especially with Folau back and with the Boks back three not being very convincing in this area. Australia should gain territory all match with high balls, rain or no rain – but the rain would help.
All in all Australia should win this one. Even if they were soundly beaten twice by the All Blacks they were never as poor as South Africa was two weeks ago in Argentina. Now the Wallabies play at home, their lineup seems more steady and they have some circumstances working in their favor, like the weather or certain matchups (like the breakdown, the No.10 battle or the kicking game).
My tip will be Australia to win with 10 units. Prediction: Australia – South Africa 28 – 18.