After the bruises to pride suffered against the All Blacks, the Wallabies bounce into an equally challenging match-up against the World Cup-winning South Africans on Sunday at Cbus Super Stadium on the Gold Coast. It’s a big double-header with New Zealand v Argentina on the menu too for The Rugby Championship.
Sun, September 12, Cbus Super Stadium, Gold Coast, 8.05pm (AEST)
Quade Cooper. There’s the story of this match in two words. Cooper may have won just two of the nine Tests he has started against the All Blacks but it is a different dynamic against the Springboks. Cooper has won eight of the 12 Tests he has started against the Boks, a healthy 66 per cent win rate. The South Africans like matching up against predictable and Cooper is anything but. The variety to his passing game and change-ups in attack have always made him a handful for the South Africans. That said, Cooper has been out of Test rugby for four years and second division in Japan for two seasons isn’t exactly the step-off point to facing a fierce South African side. Cooper is smart. His job isn’t to dazzle.His job is to steer others around the park and make some better decisions than the up-and-down Noah Lolesio.One big asset for Cooper is that he’s playing beside a sniping halfback like Tate McDermott. All eyes on Cooper will mean extra holes for McDermott. It’s a 2021 version of Cooper and Will Genia as twin attacking threats.
For the Australians, this does all start with the pack and hammering some efficiency there against the super-confident Boks. The Izack Rodda-Matt Philip pairing at lock is super-industrious but one of that duo has to do what injured Darcy Swain did so well...pinch a few lineouts to break up the rhythm of the opposition. The Wallabies have a strong bench to finish well. That’s all fine but injecting Taniela Tupou into the Test after it was lost against the All Blacks last weekend showed the folly of not starting your most destructive prop. You hope fans give South Africa full credit for the golden period they are in. The Boks have won 15 of their 18 Tests since the start of 2019 and that includes a World Cup triumph and a series win over the British and Irish Lions.
The Wallabies are still finding their identity in terms of game style or rather the balance under coach Dave Rennie. The Boks know exactly who they are. They are comfortable with a kick and pressure game, they feast on the mistakes they force, they have a dominant pack, far more experience than the Wallabies and they are patient. They could teach the Wallabies a bit about patience. They rush in defence like the All Blacks so the first Wallaby to throw a careless intercept should be hooked from the field immediately for learning nothing from the Bledisloe Cup. No Cheslin Kolbe (leg) removes one ace but the Boks get back another in halfback Faf de Klerk, a wonderful spark and game-controller.
If the Wallabies win, it will be a huge result. There’s good value about with TAB setting the Wallabies at $1.95 with 10.5-points start. The value for this Test is in a 1-12 point margin bet...$.2.90 for the Boks to win and $5 for a Wallabies win. My heart will always say that’s great value for a Wallabies’ upset. A halftime-fulltime double at $13 for South Africa to lead and the Wallabies to win at full-time is worth a few dollars too.
Sun, September 12, Cbus Super Stadium, Gold Coast, 5.05pm (AEST)
The All Blacks will be forever wary of the Argentinians after the upset loss of last year. The Argentinians have had a hugely disrupted two years because of COVID and this won’t be the scene of another boilover. The Pumas have brought back flyhalf Nicolas Sanchez, the wily veteran, for his 90th Test. Brodie Retallick is the new All Blacks captain. It’s time for Beauden Barrett to have another blinder...there are very juicy odds of $13 (TAB) for him to score two tries or more in this Test. Have a punt on that for value.
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