Wallabies aim for win out of the Boks
26 September, 2014, 5:17 pm
Update: 5:17PM South African rugby has put a lid on simmering racial tensions but the Wallabies are incensed by on-field dramas as they chase a monumental Test victory at Newlands.
Australia start as rank underdogs as they aim to break a 22-year Cape Town drought early Sunday morning (AEST) and go into the clash fed up with Springbok bleating.
Coach Ewen McKenzie, looking for the biggest win of his 14-month reign, and lineout general Rob Simmons both took aim at the local team and media who have blamed their 24-23 loss in Perth on poor refereeing and Australian trickery.
The Wallabies did have a slice of good fortune at Paterson Stadium, with Bryan Habana sin-binned late for a marginal high tackle, but suggestions his side gained a leg-up didn’t wash with McKenzie.
He also reacted angrily to claims the Wallabies kept the big Boks pack in check through marginal set-piece tactics.
McKenzie has shown his concern for the scrum pressure coming the tourists’ way by surprisingly recalling the more experienced Saia Fainga’a at hooker over James Hanson, while also putting veteran prop Benn Robinson on his bench.
But it’s the lineout – and specifically the Springboks’ notorious driving maul – which has both sides on edge and thrown Welsh referee Nigel Owens squarely into the spotlight.
In Perth, the Wallabies successfully stopped the traditional Boks weapon by not competing at the lineout but centralising their defence to sack the maul – much to the frustration of veteran lock Victor Matfield, who complained during and after the match.
“That’s just his way of dealing with things,” second-rower Simmons told AAP. “I’m sure there will be something this weekend that isn’t right as well.
“It did annoy them, and it’s still annoying them, they’re still carrying on about it.
“But you have to. If you don’t get that area of the game right, especially the mauls, they’ll be running over the top of you all night.”
McKenzie feared the attention the maul had been given could result in an unfair backlash.
“There’s a fair bit of talk because the referee is in town and people want to create innuendo but we defended it legitimately,” he said.
“If you get an opportunity to sack a maul you sack it; that’s what you do. We did it.”
There’s been less talk in the South African rugby press about the controversial selection of rising black flanker Oupa Mohoje ahead of 71-Test Cape Town crowd favourite Schalk Burger.
Springbok officials are extremely sensitive about the debate and coach Heyneke Meyer, under pressure to select more coloured players, has stressed Mohoje has won his spurs on merit.
Meyer’s decision to leave Burger on the bench, along with fellow stalwarts Bismarck du Plessis and Bakkies Botha, also has Australia wary about a fierce second-half onslaught that will whip Newlands into a frenzy.
Starting fetcher Marcell Coetzee, who grew up idolising the 2004 IRB player of the year and called himself Burger’s “evil twin”, predicted the local hero would provide a major lift.
“You will definitely here a lot of noise when he comes on,” Coetzee said.
WALLABIES TEST RECORD AGAINST SOUTH AFRICA
Played 79: Australia 34, South Africa 44, Drawn 1
In South Africa 42: Australia 10, South Africa 32
In Cape Town 11: Australia 3, South Africa 8
Last six matches: Australia 3, South Africa 3
Last meeting: Australia 24 bt South Africa 23 in Perth
Last Aust win at Newlands: 26-3 in 1992
Kickoff: Sunday 1.05am (AEST)
Referee: Nigel Owens (Wales)