Wallabies v Springboks - Match Preview - Green and Gold Rugby

Wallabies v Springboks – Match Preview

Wallabies v Springboks – Match Preview

It hasn’t been going well for these two former world beaters. Both teams appear to be in rebuild mode and have plenty to prove. A key step is facing each other in Bloemfontein for Round 5 of the Rugby Championship.

The Form

The Bokke mid-season tests started with Head Coach Coetzee in strife but gradually moved to safer ground. In the Rugby Championship, they have had a soft start – wins against Argentina home and away, and a decent draw against the Wallabies in Perth. Some of us even suggested an upset against New Zealand – which it was though not the upset that South Africans were hoping for. An abject performance by the Springboks combined with a master class from the Kiwis for a historic drubbing. There has been a week off, but beware the wounded Bokke!

Unconvincing against lower ranked teams in the mid-season tests and we started the Rugby Championship with a smash. A slow-speed train crash style smash that long terms fans will simply not forget or forgive. Things seem to be settling, though the predictable selection frustration is a continued topic for fans at the pub (and on G&GR).

Photo by Tom Offer

Photo by Tom Offer

The Game plans

Coetzee is said to be hamstrung by transformation quota, though a review of the players, who the fans want in and who they want out, doesn’t really support this in any great way. European selection criteria is also hotly discussed. Once the squad is selected though it is up to the coaching team.

The Bokke have attempted to change to a more free-flowing game, engaging the outside backs and looking to score more frequently. Unfortunately, Jesse Kriel is seen as a log-jamb (not passing) so the wide three need to look for the ball.

They stand on a traditional pack that has been the envy of the world – though they have moved to smaller (these things are relative!) more mobile back row. This said, with Louw coming in at flank 10kg to 15kg is added to the pack.

Connection between the forwards and the backs relies on the halves and can be less than smooth.

Getting inside Cheika’s head isn’t easy, let alone gelling the input from the assistants. The pack lines up in 1-3-3-1 formation with the locks and a hard hitting (hopefully) backrower in the inner pod, front row in the second pod. They seem to have been encouraged to stand back from dodgy ruck scenarios. Possibly to reduce the crazy penalty count that had been building.

Connection between pigs and hairdressers is via a twin playmaker system with Foley behind one pod and Beale behind the other. Our backs have the ability to scintillate but do our forwards have the muscle needed?

Set piece must step up. It is all too easy for the Springboks to revert to type and push a kicking game at altitude on the Hiveldt. Most fans would back a Springbok line out over the Wallabies every day of the week.

Photo by Tom Offer

Photo by Tom Offer

Team News

Springboks –Coetzee has made 4 changes to the squad that copped the drubbing from the All Blacks. Cronje returns after playing the Pumas – replacing Hougaard at scrumhalf. Pollard has returned from injury, looks unfit but will be starting on the bench. The hapless Rhule has returned to the Cheetahs to play Pro14. Another wing, the youngster Nkosi is released for the Sharks in the Currie Cup. Dillyn Leyds from the Sharks replaces Rhule on the wing. Francois Louw has been recalled from Bath and will be starting at flank.

Wallabies – Cheika has surprised us again, though actually there is a general consistency in the selections. Rodda gets his first Wallaby jersey starting in the locks. Like a phoenix rising from NSW, Rob Simmons continues his comeback – from the bench. Jack Dempsey starts at #6. Hanigan moves to the bench. Koroibete gets a start at wing. McMahon stays at #8. Lukhan Tui gets his green and gold on the bench. Kerevi is back on the bench.

Match ups

Scrum. Current form (not particularly good for either group) suggests that there should be a loose parity. If the Bokke regather their strength, it could be a long night.

Line out. Bokke was hopeless against New Zealand but surely this is a once in a lifetime aberration set to frustrate Wallaby fans. With Simmons and Tui on from the bench this might turn. To start though, we will see how Dempsy goes. Depending on Cheika’s “one to be dropped”, the bench has three jumpers in Simmons, Hanigan and Tui.

Centres. If Beale and Kuridrani are on form this could be a one-sided affair for the Aussies, in attack. In defence and with the now traditional Wallaby back-line double shuffle we are exposed.

Jantjies v Folau. That’s right, the Springbok kick and chase at altitude. Jantjies hasn’t really been in form. If Folau uses this to punish the first couple of kicks it will have bearing. If the ball is forced to the boundaries, see “lineout” above. I’d like to see Hodge get his foot to the ball early in the game to put the Springboks in two minds.

Israel Folau is tackled Wallabies v Springboks Perth 2017 (Photo Credit: Delphy)


The record and the stats are all with the Springboks. The new starters have the appearance of importance being placed on experience rather than a must win. Mind you, Cheika and his motivation is a weapon on its own. The bookies must surely call this for the Springboks, though it won’t be a comfortable night for Coetzee.

Springboks by 7


1. Tendai Mtawarira, 2. Malcolm Marx , 3. Ruan Dreyer, 4. Eben Etzebeth, 5. Franco Mostert, 6. Siya Kolisi, 7. Francois Louw, 8. Uzair Cassiem, 9. Ross Cronje,
10. Elton Jantjies, 11. Courtnall Skosan, 12. Jan Serfontein, 13. Jesse Kriel, 14. Dillyn Leyds, 15. Andries Coetzee
16. Chiliboy Ralepelle, 17. Steven Kitshoff, 18. Trevor Nyakane, 19. Pieter-Steph du Toit, 20. Jean-Luc du Preez, 21. Rudy Paige, 22. Handré Pollard, 23. Damian de Allende


1. Scott Sio, 2. Tataafu Polota-Nau, 3. Sekope Kepu, 4. Izack Rodda 5. Adam Coleman, 6. Jack Dempsey, 7. Michael Hooper (c),  8. Sean McMahon, 9. Will Genia, 10. Bernard Foley, 11. Reece Hodge, 12. Kurtley Beale, 13. Tevita Kuridrani, 14. Marika Koroibete, 15. Israel Folau
16. Stephen Moore, 17. Tom Robertson, 18. Allan Alaalatoa, 19. Rob Simmons, 20. Lukhan Tui, 21. Ned Hanigan, 22. Nick Phipps, 23. Samu Kerevi , 24. In a Cheika special Henry Speight
(one to be omitted)

Match Details

Date: Saturday, 30 September 2017
Venue: Free State Stadium, Bloemfontein
Kick-off: 17:05 local 1:05 AEST
Referee: Ben O’Keefe (NZ)
Assistant referees: Jerome Garces (Fr), Shuhei Kubo (Jap)
TMO: Rowan Kitt (Eng)

Just a quick not about the time – this match could be a long one. Kick off is at 1:05am and if you get (stay) up to watch it you probably won’t get back to be until around 4:00am. Yep, Daylight savings kicks in right around half time, so don’t forget to change your clocks!
Statistics courtesy of Opta Sports.

  • Nah Wallabies by 7!

    • dru

      Sully, hard to ignore the record in SA and the stats, head has to say Boks. heart though? We’ve in with a real chance here!

      • Yeah Just sticking to my rule of never tipping against the Reds or the Wallabies No matter what their real chances are.

        • Brisneyland Local

          Sully, you are a great and to Qute “Yes Prime Miniter!” A very courageous man!

        • Max Raine

          The stats and records are irrelevant when we have such a young and new team

    • Kiwi rugby lover

      Have to be some big improvements for that to happen. But the team is better, especially the pack. I’m still a bit concerned about the defence structure and the ability to compete at rucks. Just hope they give it all

  • Stin

    Is the “Double shuffle” still in play?

    • dru

      Yep, though it is tamed down. It is more evident against the All Blacks who are very fast on the counter at turnovers – this tends to really expose the shuffle. Recently we’ve seen players out of defensive position stay more disciplined and phase out to their defensive positions over a couple of phases. Against the Pumas there was some good work with Floau and excellent communication from the forwards moving him on and taking responsibility. But there are still different positions for attack and D, and this changes too in different parts of the field.

      Hopefully the Springboks ability to unpick it!

      • Brumby Runner

        It is definitely still on. Against the Pumas, both Beale and Foley were defending on the wings at various times and Speight was at 13. I think however, you have nailed the issue in that against the ABs the ball is so quickly used on turnover that the shuffle is still out of position when the attack hits them. Not so dire against the Pumas, and time will tell v the Saffas.

        The backline defense and the backrow performance will be telling in this game. Remember that the lighter Saffa backrow had a field day against us in the first test, and they will have more size and muscle tomorrow.

    • Adrian

      Yes, but a simplified version I think

  • Adrian

    I give us a chance if we maintain concentration and intensity, and use the thin air wisely.

    This means don’t overcook kicks, care with floating ball in lineouts, and replace guys who run out of gas earlier than normal. I’d like 6:2 bench.

    Like Cheika, I’m always hoping for a new gem to emerge somewhere, so I’ll be looking at Dempsey, Korebette, and hopefully Tui if he’s in the 23

    Oddly enough, I’m ok with Moore on the bench to throw into the lineouts in last 15 min.

    Key players TPN, Coleman, Hooper, Beale, Hodge, Folau

    • dru

      My key players to start with are all around kicking and line outs – Taf, Coleman, Rodda and hopefully a big hoof from Hodge.

      6:2 is always a consideration on the hiveldt. :-)

    • Kiwi rugby lover

      Mate hoping on a gem from a new player isn’t a strategy I’d be advocating. That’s more a measure of desperation than a plan and smacks of a real issue if it’s true

      • Adrian

        True enough Kiwi.
        A hope for me, but possibly a strategy for Cheika. He’s very much a right-brain coach IMO.
        Both teams under more pressure than they’d like to be.
        With bookies having installed SA as clear favourites, I’m not game to say much, except that if our hard workers work hard, Beale, Folau, Korebette could deliver the unexpected. They have the capacity to do that

        • Kiwi rugby lover

          Yeah I get that with the pressure he’s got to hope. I’d be a lot happier if he just had a plan though

        • Adrian

          Hi Kiwi
          I think he does have a plan.
          One part of plan is to build depth.
          Other part is to play the game a certain way,….. which is the only way he can successfully coach.
          His plan IMO is to have players who can play his version of the flat backline, …which put simply is to orchestrate the attack a bit wider than through the conventional 5/8 chanel. Thanks why Foley is just a link man, to get the ball to the main man who is Beale. Idea is to split the defence around 12-13, not to get it to the wing.
          This is the only strategy Cheika really understands, and this is his plan

  • Hoss

    Nice write-up Dru.

    I feel that there is finally signs of life in the Wallabies. I like the squad, i think Dempsey is a smokey for MOTM, away form home and the grind i reckon we will aim up.

    The key aim up in all of this is how the Wallabies deal with Louw – he could be the difference.

    Bok forward power is a tightly held memory, but there’s none to fear in that pack, if we get nothing but parity (reckon Cheika will confirm 6:2 bench for sure) in the forwards our backs will carve up the Boks.

    Us by 18 – Coetzee gone by years end.

    • dru

      Hoss, I think we dismiss the Bokke pack at our peril. Louw v Dempsey is an interesting battle! Let’s hope Dempsey has his jumping boots on.

  • idiot savant

    This will be a cracking game. The Boks have the edge in the forwards we have the edge in the backs.

    It will be a great test of nerve for both sides. Can we hold our nerve if the Boks get dominance and points in the forwards early on, and can the Boks hold their nerve if their backs miss tackles like they did against the ABs?

    Leadership will be important if it gets tight. Coleman and Beale are the two players who will lead the way for us. We could win this by 3 points or by 20 depending on the outcome of the above.

    • Hoss

      Like i say to Mrs Hoss, its not the size that matters, just the result.

      • first time long time

        Dear Hoss…. it’s only the man who doesn’t have that says it doesn’t matter!
        Poor ol Mrs Hoss

      • From NooZealand

        An inch is as good as a mile, when avoiding disaster … so even one, just one point will do.

      • Brisneyland Local

        As an old friend of mine at uni once stated:
        “51 % is a waste of effort….49% is a waste of time!”

  • juswal

    Apart from the match-ups that Dru identified, I reckon the big clash is Venter versus Grey. Who’s done a better job of putting together a defence plan that their players can understand and execute?

    • I don’t think there’s any question and sorry, it’s Venter. The Bokke understood it, it just gave the AB probably 3-5 m more space at every breakdown than most teams have done since the BIL this year so they got roundly punished.

      However poor it was against the AB, we know SA’s defensive system can stymie the French and the Pumas, and can contain the Wallabies too, judging by Perth. Can the Wallabies defence cope with the Bokke at altitude will be the question for me, along with have the Bokke sorted their scrum and line out woes.

  • D. Braithwaite’s The Brumbies

    Marx vs Moore, what a clash of the titans that is.

    • Adrian

      Won’t be for long or at all (hopefully). Moore for last 15. He’ll be coming on when Marx is leaving…. hopefully

      • D. Braithwaite’s The Brumbies

        We’re going to have to pray that that is the case, mate. :P

        Can you imagine if TPN gets a head knock early…?

        • dru

          At least Moore can throw!

        • D. Braithwaite’s The Brumbies

          We can’t afford to carry passengers at this level.

          Cheika will (hopefully) dispose of Hanigan, but we’ve still got Moore, who has just been awful these last 2 years. There are legitimately 4-5 Aussie hookers who should be there ahead of him.

        • Bernie Chan

          That is really one of our fundamental issues isn’t it…we have too many “passengers”, eg in defence, Grey thinks he has to hide Foley, Beale and Izzy…hence the backline double shuffle…, forwards picked to mitigate flaws in another’s game (instead of picking players in positions where they have the mandatory skill sets). As others have pondered…will the Boks defence give us so much space that our backs can carve them up or will the “Cheika-Grey Two-Step” again cause confusion among the Wallas. Can’t imagine that Etzebeth et al will be as bad in the lineout again (BTW…is Marx a poor lineout thrower…?), and if Jantjes kicks well we’d better have Hodge back to “return serve”.

        • D. Braithwaite’s The Brumbies

          Exactly. You defend in the position you’re picked, if you’re not good enough to defend there then you’re not good enough to play there.

          9. Genia, 10. Foley/Cooper/Lance, 11. Hodge, 12. Kerevi, 13. Kuridrani, 14. Folau, 15. Beale is the strongest backline we can put out in which everyone can defend in their own position.

        • Bernie Chan

          That is the one thing that frustrates me most about the current approach to out Wallas team…the weakening of one position in an attempt to strengthen another. Eg I personally thought Gill was not valued enough and Pocock is (when available…) our best #7 but Hooper is the best option right now…just like to see him in the collision area a bit more so the #6 and #8 can fulfil their roles better. Pick Hooper at #7 but pick a #6 and #8 that can win a lineout, hurt in defence and break tackles in attack…ask Hooper to play in closer and make the flyhalf and #12 defende their channel. The lack of balance baffles me..

  • first time long time

    I am worried about this one.
    For all the talk about an improved performance against the Pumas, without the 3 tries in the last 10 min against 14 men it could have been another disaster.
    I will be riding the boys in gold like sea biscuit but I won’t be surprised if we get spanked.

    • Kiwi rugby lover

      I think it’ll be hugely important to take the chances that come up. If they do that and stop the Boks from theirs. Could be in with a chance


Too small for the pack too slow for the backs - the exception that makes the rule that rugby is a game for all sizes. Qld bred rugby fan with an eye on South Africa.

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