South Africa will be bristling with anger when the take on Australia in Cape Town on Saturday (Sept 28), following their controversial loss to New Zealand two weeks ago.
The Wallabies arrive with their spirits revived following a close victory over Argentina in the Rugby Championship. The Springboks lost in Auckland to the All Blacks after having hooker Bismarck du Plessis sent from the field—wrongly, as it transpired.
For South Africa the loss is similar to a loss to Australia in the 2011 World Cup. Many fans believe referees treat them unfairly, costing the ’Boks games.
The concept of standing alone against the world runs deep in the South African psyche, so such incidents touch nationalistic nerves.
While NZ is the main focus for South African anger, Australia is a suitable proxy.
The Springboks have a point to prove. And all the emotion from rugby fans will pulse through the country, then focus on Cape Town on Saturday.
Over-aggression is a problem—and, to a degree, a Springboks problem. But I don’t expect the Springboks to be rash or thuggish—national pride demands that the ’Boks win, so discipline will be high.
The South Africans know they are tougher than the Australians, so they will get man-on-man as much as possible. It’s their forte, after all.
Accordingly, I expect the Boks to dominate the inconsistent Wallabies scrum, control contested ball—then take control of the game and unleash their impressive backs.
The Springboks thrashed the Wallabies when they met in Sydney.
The Wallabies are rebuilding after their series loss to the British and Irish Lions earlier this year. Coach Robbie Deans was sacked, and replaced with Ewen McKenzie.
McKenzie promised a returned to the Australian running game—and he has delivered. But the side hasn’t clicked. In fact, few players have cemented a place, including star half-back Will Genia.
As well, perennial bad boy, utility back James O’Connor has been dropped for the next two games for disciplinary reasons.
The decision was made by coach McKenzie, who said he took O’Connor’s history into account. The airport incident was minor.
All Blacks vs Pumas
NZ play Argentina at La Plata, where the passionate Pumas respond to the passionate crowd. In their first match, the Pumas equalled the All Blacks in the forwards. So their confidence is high.
Their weakness is their inexperience at this level. They should have beaten Australia, but they aren’t able to control close games.
That inexperience will count against the Pumas.
Peter Lalanabaravi is a rugby writer with over 30 years experience.