Rugby Championship

Boks desperate to avoid being one-Test wonders

2018-09-28 08:15
Faf de Klerk (Getty)
Faf de Klerk (Getty)

Johannesburg - South Africa want to beat Australia for only the second time in seven Tests on Saturday and avoid being labelled one-match wonders after a stunning triumph over New Zealand.

A seesaw season for the Springboks under new coach Rassie Erasmus has brought four wins and four losses with a thrilling 36-34 victory in Wellington this month the highlight.

Before inflicting a rare home defeat on the world champions, the South Africans were lacklustre in away defeats by Argentina and Australia.

Erratic form has left them with little chance of winning the Rugby Championship for the first time as they trail the All Blacks by six points with two rounds remaining.

But home fixtures against Australia in Port Elizabeth, and New Zealand in Pretoria next Saturday, offer South Africa an opportunity to build momentum.

"We do not want to be known as one-match wonders," stressed scrumhalf Faf de Klerk ahead of the showdown with struggling Australia at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium.

"All the gloss of defeating the All Blacks in Wellington will disappear if we deliver a mediocre performance at home to the Wallabies and lose.

"Having celebrated the victory in New Zealand, the focus quickly shifted to plotting a victory over the Wallabies."

De Klerk, who plays for English Premiership club Sale Sharks, was recalled this season after being left out in the cold last year by previous coach Allister Coetzee.

His inconsistent form in seven consecutive starts for the twice former world champions this year has matched that of a team which has ranged between brilliance and mediocrity.

"We have spoken a lot about consistency," said De Klerk.

"It is not just about winning, but improving our individual performances."

Erasmus has made four personnel changes - three injury enforced - from the Wellington starting line-up for the southern hemisphere championship fifth-round match.

Cheslin Kolbe comes in on the right wing for Jesse Kriel, who switches to centre in place of Lukhanyo Am and partners Andre Esterhuizen, a replacement for Damian de Allende.

"Beast" Mtawarira wins his 106th cap as loosehead prop with Steven Kitshoff dropping to the bench and Sikhumbuzo Notshe takes over from Warren Whiteley at No 8.

Australia coach Michael Cheika has also made four personnel changes after a 23-19 loss to Argentina in the Gold Coast - their first home defeat by the Pumas in 35 years.

Losing relegated the Wallabies to a record-low seventh in the world rankings midway through a season in which they have won only two of seven Tests.

Skipper and flank Michael Hooper has recovered from an injury and returns to a reshuffled back row with Ned Hanigan also called up and David Pocock switching to No 8.

Adam Coleman replaces Rory Arnold at lock and tighthead prop Taniela Tupou makes his run-on debut with Allan Alaalatoa relegated to the bench.

Cheika resisted media calls to begin with flyhalf Bernard Foley, giving versatile Kurtley Beale a third straight start as playmaker.

Centre Reece Hodge is upbeat ahead of the first match between the countries in Port Elizabeth since 1963 when South Africa triumphed to draw a four-Test series.

"They had a great win over the All Blacks but their supporters, like ours, are going to demand consistency."

Teams:

South Africa

15 Willie le Roux, 14 Cheslin Kolbe, 13 Jesse Kriel, 12 Andre Esterhuizen, 11 Aphiwe Dyantyi, 10 Handre Pollard, 9 Faf de Klerk, 8 Sikhumbuzo Notshe, 7 Pieter-Steph du Toit, Siya Kolisi (captain), 5 Franco Mostert, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Frans Malherbe, 2 Malcolm Marx, 1 Tendai Mtawarira

Substitutes: 16 Bongi Mbonambi, 17 Steven Kitshoff, 18 Wilco Louw, 19 RG Snyman, 20 Marco van Staden, 21 Embrose Papier, 22 Elton Jantjies, 23 Damian Willemse

Australia

15 Dane Haylett-Petty, 14 Israel Folau, 13 Reece Hodge, 12 Matt Toomua, 11 Marika Koroibete, 10 Kurtley Beale, 9 Will Genia, 8 David Pocock, 7 Michael Hooper (captain), 6 Ned Hanigan, 5 Izack Rodda, 4 Adam Coleman, 3 Taniela Tupou, 2 Tatafu Polota-Nau, 1 Scott Sio

Substitutes: 16 Folau Faingaa, 17 Sekope Kepu, 18 Allan Alaalatoa, 19 Rory Arnold, 20 Rob Simmons, 21 Nick Phipps, 22 Bernard Foley, 23 Jack Maddocks

Read more on:    springboks  |  rugby championship  |  rugby
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Saturday, 17 November 2018
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