It’s the Boks ... by a whisker

2011-07-22 14:06
Peter de Villiers (Gallo)

Rob Houwing, Sport24 chief writer

Cape Town – Never write off the men in green ... that is the defiant message from Sport24 readers ahead of the Castle Tri-Nations opener between Australia and South Africa in Sydney on Saturday.

Despite Peter de Villiers and company opting for a significantly watered-down side as they preserve core players with the World Cup in mind, a poll on our site asking “How do you see the Tri-Nations Test in Sydney panning out?” produced a narrow show of loyalty toward an upset win for John Smit’s underdogs.

Five options were provided in terms of the possible result, with 29% of respondents, at the time of writing, fancying the Boks to get home by fewer than seven points and 17% optimistically tipping them to win by seven or more.

That amounts to 46% of the poll leaning toward South Africa, with 45% choosing the Wallabies: the split there was 37% backing the Aussies to prevail by seven points or more, and 8% by fewer than seven points.

Another 9% hinted at a possible stalemate by choosing the “too close to call” option.

The last time the Boks fielded a weakened Tri-Nations side in Sydney ahead of a World Cup (the triumphant 2007 one), they put up a brave show before losing 25-17.

There will be a few “survivors” from that meeting on view on Saturday: centre Wynand Olivier and scrumhalf Ruan Pienaar were starters then and do so again, whilst in the Wallaby ranks Adam Ashley-Cooper and Rocky Elsom again run out at the start – Nathan Sharpe begins this Test off the bench.

Meanwhile an earlier Sport24 poll this week, asking the broader question “Who will hold aloft the Tri-Nations trophy?” strongly tipped IRB No 1-ranked New Zealand: they garnered a massive 62% of votes.

But the Boks, likelier to be much closer to full strength for the home leg, came in second with 32% and the Wallabies got a miserly 6% in distant third – maybe influenced by their shock reverse to Samoa last weekend.

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