Rugby Championship

Boks look to keep heat on ABs

2014-09-25 23:22
Heyneke Meyer (Gallo Images)

Cape Town - South Africa and Australia both need victory in Saturday's Rugby Championship clash at Newlands, probably with a bonus point, if they are keep the heat on table-topping New Zealand which should ensure an entertaining contest.

The pair have 10 points from four games, six behind the world champion All Blacks who play later in the day in Argentina and can clinch the title with a bonus-point win.

The Boks lost in Australia by a point and in New Zealand by four in their previous two games, agonising defeats that give them plenty of motivation going into the Cape Town fixture (17:00 SA time).

Coach Heyneke Meyer believes victory on Saturday, coupled with success at home to the All Blacks, would put a completely different complexion on their whole year whatever happens with the Championship title.

"We were so close to winning three games on the road which has never happened before," Meyer told reporters.

"It's so close for us between a great season and an average season.

"We have to win these next two home games to get the momentum going.

"I'm very happy with the week training-wise and hopefully it's a dry field, we haven't played on a dry field for some time and that will allow us to show what we can do on attack."

Meyer has kept experienced flyhalf Morné Steyn sidelined in favour of 20-year-old rookie Handré Pollard, while Teboho 'Oupa' Mohaje gets a first start at blindside flanker ahead of World Cup winner Schalk Burger after injuries to Willem Alberts and Francois Louw.

Mohaje was playing in South Africa's amateur Varsity Cup competition at the start of the year and after just a handful of starts in Super Rugby, given to him by injuries to others, he finds himself an international.

"To lose Willem and Francoise is to lose two established players, it's like losing (Richie) McCaw and (Kieran) Read, but we are blessed with loose-forwards in this country," Meyer said.

"Oupa has come on leaps and bounds since the beginning of the year, he was involved in the first camp and I was really impressed with his physicality and athleticism. He deserves to start."

Australia have made changes on the wing, bringing in flyer Joe Tomane for a first cap in almost a year.

Adam Ashley-Cooper returns on the other wing while hooker Saia Fainga'a starts.

Coach Ewan McKenzie's side are focused on winning the set-piece battle which he believes will decide the contest.

"The set-piece is always an important area of focus for us, even more so when you play South Africa, and we know the outcome of the scrum and line-out will be crucial to the final result," McKenzie said.

"It's great to add Adam's experience to the squad and we expect him to be refreshed and ready to go after missing our most recent Test against Argentina.

"We've been impressed by how Rob Horne has performed on the wing, but we feel Joe deserves an opportunity to also show us what he has got.

"You can never have enough big backs in your side, and the physicality he brings to the game should serve us well against an abrasive Springboks line-up."


South Africa

15 Willie le Roux, 14 Cornal Hendricks, 13 Jan Serfontein, 12 Jean de Villiers (captain), 11 Bryan Habana, 10 Handre Pollard, 9 Francois Hougaard, 8 Duane Vermeulen, 7 Teboho Mohoje, 6 Marcell Coetzee, 5 Victor Matfield, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Jannie du Plessis, 2 Adriaan Strauss, 1 Tendai Mtawarira

Substitutes: 16 Bismarck du Plessis, 17 Trevor Nyakane, 18 Marcel van der Merwe, 19 Bakkies Botha, 20 Schalk Burger, 21 Cobus Reinach, 22 Pat Lambie, 23 JP Pietersen


15 Israel Folau, 14 Adam Ashley-Cooper, 13 Tevita Kuridrani, 12 Matt Toomua, 11 Joe Tomane, 10 Bernard Foley, 9 Nick Phipps, 8 Ben McCalman, 7 Michael Hooper (captain), 6 Scott Fardy, 5 Rob Simmons, 4 Sam Carter, 3 Sekope Kepu, 2 Saia Fainga’a, 1 James Slipper.

Substitutes: 16 James Hanson, 17 Benn Robinson, 18 Ben Alexander, 19 James Horwill, 20 Scott Higginbotham, 21 Nic White, 22 Kurtley Beale, 23 Rob Horne


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