BRISBANE, Australia (AP) — The second Rugby Championship match in two weekends between Australia and South Africa could see contrasting streaks extended. But for which team?
The Wallabies haven’t won consecutive test matches in two years and the Springboks haven’t lost two in a row since 2018.
Coming off the Wallabies’ 28-26 win over the world champion Springboks last weekend, it’s advantage Australia solely because of the location — Australia hasn’t lost in five years at Brisbane's Suncorp Stadium.
Since England beat Australia 39-28 on June 11, 2016 at Suncorp, the Wallabies have won six matches in row over South Africa, Italy, New Zealand, Ireland, Argentina and, in July. France. In 2019, Australia beat Argentina 16-10 and New Zealand 47-26 in consecutive matches and also defeated Uruguay and Georgia in successive games at the Rugby World Cup in Japan.
The Springboks lost their two in a row in 2018 to New Zealand at Pretoria and England at Twickenham in October and November of that year. They actually lost two in a row twice that year when they finished with a 7-7 won-loss record in 14 matches.
Flyhalf Quade Cooper’s penalty goal after the siren gave the Wallabies the win last weekend, but prop Trevor Nyakane thinks the Springboks lost the match far earlier when Australia dominated the visitors at the scrum.
The Springboks say they weren't pleased when the Wallabies scrum piled over them at the end of the first half and second half, ultimately costing the world champions six points — and the match.
Nyakane, who is back in the side after sustaining an ankle injury against Argentina, says it won’t happen again in the return engagement.
“Definitely it hurts for us as a pack,” said Nyakane, one of South Africa’s stars in this year’s 2-1 series win over the British and Irish Lions. “It doesn’t matter when and how it happens.
“We strive to be dominant and try to get 100% scrums we go in, so it was tough to see that and we as a team knew we’d have to go back, look at those pictures and try to understand what happened. It will start and end with momentum, same in the set piece so we’ll do all we can to salvage that.”
South Africa will face a new-look Australian front row.
Allan Alaalatoa has left the Wallabies for the birth of his first child and prop Taniela Tupou will have his first start of the tournament. James Slipper also returns to the starting front row, with Angus Bell and Tom Robertson on the bench.
South Africa will likely have to win their remaining three games in the Rugby Championship to retain the title they won in 2019. The Springboks' last two matches are against New Zealand, including the 100th match of their rivalry in Townsville on Sept 25.
That’s on the third of four consecutive weekend doubleheaders between Rugby Championship teams being played solely in Queensland state due to COVID-19 quarantine and travel restrictions. In the second match Saturday, undefeated New Zealand will try to make it successive victories over winless Argentina.
South Africa coach Jacques Nienaber made two changes to his starting lineup for Saturday’s match, including Nyakane’s addition. The Springboks will be without key lineout forward Lood de Jager because of concussion protocols and his place will be taken by Marvin Orie.
Michael Hooper will become the Wallabies’ most-capped captain when he leads the side out for the 60th time in his 113th game for Australia since making his test debut in 2012. George Gregan held the previous captaincy mark.
“He’s a Wallaby great . . . if he was playing in a different era with a team full of experienced and seasoned players and you’re dominating the world, you’d go down as one of the best players in the world," Australia coach Dave Rennie said. “I still think he’ll get that mantle. He’s just so resilient."
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