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Tuesday, 11 December, 2018

South Africa can keep it close against Australia

Wet forecast set to hamper running rugby

Fly-half Elton Jantjies starts for South Africa
1 of 1

Rugby Championship
Sky Sports Action, 11am Saturday

Both Rugby Championship clashes between Australia and South Africa last season finished in draws and there may be little in it when they clash in Brisbane.

Both teams have made surprise selections at fly-half, with Wallabies coach Michael Cheika shifting Kurtley Beale from midfield to replace stalwart Bernard Foley, while opposite number Rassie Erasmus has restored Elton Jantjies, who appeared to fall out of favour for the starting role last year.

Both men are renowned for their playmaking skills and their selection could point to a more ambitious and creative gameplan, but the weather may well have other ideas as rain is forecast.

Wet conditions could well keep the score down and with a recent history of close contests, backing the Boks with a five-point handicap start looks the wager.

Before last year's Perth stalemate, the Aussies had won by six points in 2016 and by four in 2015 - both matches played at Brisbane's Suncorp Stadium - while there was only one point in it the year before that.

The Wallabies may well feel that their Rugby Championship campaign begins with this clash as taking on all-conquering New Zealand back-to-back in the first two rounds always seemed likely to result in two heavy defeats.

Coach Cheika is under pressure to deliver but has been hit by injury to flanker David Pocock, who was named in the original starting line-up but had to withdraw with a neck injury. That is a big loss given that the breakdown will be one of the key areas between these teams.

Erasmus has shuffled his pack, naming a new front row to take on a Wallabies scrum who seem to have started putting their reputation as weak scrummagers behind them.

The Springbok coach may be reacting to last month's disappointing loss in Argentina, or may have one eye on next week's clash with the All Blacks.

But he will expect a response from his players after losing to the Pumas and if the conditions hamper running rugby, the Boks have the physical edge to keep it close.

Recommendation
South Africa +5
2pts Evs Betway


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Before last year's Perth stalemate, the Aussies had won by six points in 2016 and by four in 2015 while there was only one point in it the year before
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