Preview: Australia v South Africa
The Wallabies host a resurgent Springbok side at nib Stadium in Perth in Round Three of the Rugby Championship on Saturday.
Michael Cheika’s side have lost their opening two matches of the competition both against the All Blacks.
The first was a 54-34 defeat in which their defensive inadequacies were severely exposed. However, there was a marked improvement in the second in which they ran the All Blacks close, leading 29-28 with two minutes to go only for Beauden Barrett’s last-gasp try to deny them a historic victory.
They will take a lot of confidence from that game after many had written them off.
The Springboks are a team that is also rebuilding its reputation after the horror of 2016. The Boks are well on the road to redemption with five wins on the bounce.
However, with those victories coming against the below-par French (three) and Argentines (two), the true test will be against the bigger nations, starting this weekend with the resurgent Wallabies.
Both sides have worked hard on their physical conditioning and this is reflected in the statistics. Australia have rallied to score four tries in the final quarter of their games already this tournament, more than any other team in the competition while the Springboks are the only team yet to concede a try in the opening or closing quarter of games.
The Wallabies have won seven of their last eight games when hosting the Springboks, including their last three; however this will only be the second Test ever played at nib Stadium in Perth.
Known for it’s large South African population, Perth has always felt like a second home to the Boks. Furthermore, in the wake of local Perth club the Force’s axing, Australian Rugby Union officials will be fearing a low turn-out. Force veteran Matt Hodgson said earlier in the week he expects less Wallabies jerseys and more Force jerseys in the crowd out of protest against the highly-contentious ruling.
But hopefully this does not take away from what should be a highly-intriguing spectacle as both sides will be desperate to prove that they have recovered from their respective downward spirals.
2016: South Africa won 18-10 in Pretoria
2016: Australia won 23-17 in Brisbane
2015: Australia won 24-20 in Brisbane
2014: South Africa won 28-10 in Cape Town
2014: Australia won 24-23 in Perth
2013: South Africa won 28-8 in Cape Town
2013: South Africa won 38-12 in Brisbane
2012: South Africa won 31-8 in Pretoria
2012: Australia won 26-19 in Perth
2011: Australia won 11-9 in Wellington
2011: Australia won 14-9 in Durban
2011: Australia won 39-20 in Sydney
2010: Australia won 41-39 in Bloemfontein
2010: South Africa won 44-31 in Pretoria
2010: Australia won 30-13 in Brisbane
2009: Australia won 21-6 in Brisbane
Australia: 15 Israel Folau, 14 Henry Speight, 13 Tevita Kuridrani, 12 Kurtley Beale, 11 Reece Hodge, 10 Bernard Foley, 9 Will Genia, 8 Sean McMahon, 7 Michael Hooper (c), 6 Ned Hanigan, 5 Adam Coleman, 4 Rory Arnold, 3 Sekope Kepu, 2 Tatafu Polota-Nau, 1 Scott Sio
Replacements: 16 Jordan Uelese, 17 Tom Robertson, 18 Allan Alaalatoa, 19 Rob Simmons, 20 Jack Dempsey, 21 Nick Phipps, 22 Samu Kerevi, 23 Curtis Rona
South Africa: 15 Andries Coetzee, 14 Raymond Rhule, 13 Jesse Kriel, 12 Jan Serfontein, 11 Courtnall Skosan, 10 Elton Jantjies, 9 Ross Cronje, 8 Uzair Cassiem, 7 Jaco Kriel, 6 Siya Kolisi, 5 Pieter-Steph du Toit, 4 Eben Etzebeth (c), 3 Coenie Oosthuizen, 2 Malcolm Marx, 1 Tendai Mtawarira
Replacements: 16 Bongi Mbonambi, 17 Steven Kitshoff, 18 Trevor Nyakane, 19 Lood de Jager, 20 Jean-Luc du Preez, 21 Francois Hougaard, 22 Handré Pollard, 23 Damian de Allende
Date: Saturday, September 9
Venue: nib Stadium, Perth
Kick-off: 18:00 local (10:00 GMT)
Referee: Glen Jackson (New Zealand)
Assistant referees: John Lacey (Ireland), Paul Williams (New Zealand)
TMO: Ben Skeen (New Zealand)