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
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
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