The Springboks need to build on the last-gasp one-point win over the All Blacks with victory over the Wallabies on Saturday.
Anything less will just not suffice for Jake White’s battered Boks as they seek redemption for a season that has been notable for its lows rather than its highs. Victory at Ellis Park on Saturday though will go a long way to easing the pressure on the beleaguered coach and players.
It will also show that the narrow win over the All Blacks at the Royal Bafokeng Sports Palace in Phokeng was not a fluke. All the good generated from the shock victory will be undone if the Wallabies are allowed to win their first ever Vodacom Tri-Nations Test on the Highveld.
And revenge for the 49-0 drubbing in Brisbane is at the forefront of their thinking. “We have a bit of a score to settle after that defeat in Brisbane,” White said after seeing his team halt a run of five back-to-back defeats.
“The Wallabies play a brand of rugby that differs from that of the All Blacks and will ask different questions from us. We need to prepare differently.”
Despite the Boks stealing five All Blacks lineout balls, White does not expect the Wallabies to be even less threatening. “They will not be able to dominate as easily in the lineout as the All Blacks did,” he said, “but they have some of the world’s best playmakers at No 9, 10 and 12.”
White, of course was referring to George Gregan, Stephen Larkham and Matt Giteau. But the Boks will be able to match them man for man. A possible halfback combination of Ruan Pienaar and Andre Pretorius is on the cards with Fourie du Preez possibly in for a well-deserved break. Outside them, Jean de Villiers will get another chance to prove himself after injury.
The Australians are going for their third win in-a-row against the Boks, but for the second week running the Springboks have been given Monday off. It seemed to do the trick last week in what is already the longest international season ever.
By Andrew Hollely