WITH the Springboks bringing only two of the side that played the All Blacks, it’s a thankless task for the Wallabies. The only win in the public’s eye will be a points land-slide to the Aussies, which will be no mean feat. So what can we expect?
There aren’t a stack of caps in the Springbok side, and considering Mortlock’s carve up of the AB’s last week, you gotta think that White will be watching number 13 Waylon Murray’s second run-out pretty carefully.
A relative strength for the Boks will be their back row, with Skinstad’s smarts and Wannenburg’s bulk. Deservedly, Hoiles is getting the starting 8 slot for the Wallabies and it will be interesting to see whether his pace and skills outweighs the kilos he yields both to the South Africans and Lyons on the bench. With Smith on the open side, this will be a pacey Aussie back row.
Australia managed to match up against the first choice Bok front row in the first test, so how will they fare against this line up, where only van der Linde has any real form. With no Matfield in the second row, Sharpe and Vickerman should really be looking for superiority at the line out, and to drastically improve their performance at the re-start.
Of course, in the outside backs the big news for Australian is the loss of Tuqiri to a two match suspension due to a completely incomprehensible fµck up on his behalf. In comes Gerrard, a solid but unexciting choice, and with Ashley-Cooper deservedly on the other wing, this leaves our outside backs lacking the true pace of a Paulse or Pietersen on the other side. At fullback Huxley is shown yet more faith by Knuckles, which he really needs to start repaying.
On the bench McMeniman gets a sniff of a jersey again, although I fear this may not repeat iteslf too much in the future due to the Qld big man being injury prone. Look out for another impressive display from Staniforth on the bench.
In all, the inexperience of this Springbok side should mean an Aussie victory. Assuming the Wallabies manage to avoid this potential banana skin, we look for a good performance to confirm the continuing improvement of the team, and to set up a tasty Beldisloe and Tri-Nations decider in Auckland later this month.
Australia: Julian Huxley, Mark Gerrard, Stirling Mortlock (c), Matt Giteau, Adam Ashley-Cooper, Stephen Larkham, George Gregan, Stephen Hoiles, George Smith (v-c), Rocky Elsom, Daniel Vickerman, Nathan Sharpe, Guy Shepherdson, Adam Freier, Matt Dunning.
Res: Sean Hardman, Al Baxter, Hugh McMeniman, David Lyons, Phil Waugh (v-c), Scott Staniforth, Drew Mitchell.
15 Bevin Fortuin (1), 14 Breyton Paulse (62), 13 Waylon Murray (1), 12 Wynand Olivier (15), 11 JP Pietersen (4), 10 Derick Hougaard (6), 9 Ruan Pienaar (10), 8 Bob Skinstad (37) (C), 7 Pedrie Wannenburg (18), 6 Wikus van Heerden (5), 5 Johann Muller (14)
4 Johan Ackermann (12), 3 Jannie Du Plessis (-), 2 Gary Botha (7), 1 CJ van der Linde (37)
Bench: 16 Bismarck du Plessis ( – ), 17 Eddie Andrews (21), 18 Albert van den Berg (44), 19 Jacques Cronje (29), 20 Michael Claassens (6), 21 Peter Grant ( – ), 22 Jaco Pretorius (7)