Australia and South Africa are set to clash in the quarter-finals of the rugby World Cup, in Wellington, on Sunday, October 9, 2011.
This is a match that has all the ingredients that should go into a sporting contest between two well matched teams equally motivated to win, the only nations to have won two world cups each.
The Springboks have worked up a fine rhythm after beginning their pool campaign tentatively, with a close-fought 17-16 win over Wales, but after that they came into their own, dismissing Fiji (49-3), Namibia (89-0) and Samoa (13-5), to top their group, en route to the quarter-finals.
After Australia lost their opening match, in pool C, to Ireland, the Wallabies took charge of their campaign and brushed aside Italy, USA and Russia to finish runners up in the pool to secure a place in the quarter-finals.
Australia are always tough competitors and reigning champions South Africa would be wary of the challenge ahead,especially the presence of Quade Cooper at whose receiving end the Springboks have been, on several occasions. The head-to-head record has been especially one-sided in recent times, with Australia winning four of the last five clashes between the teams.
That said, this South African squad have better experience in winning knock out games than their Australian rivals of the weekend. And given the tough nature of their last pool game against Samoa, the Springboks could be said to be better prepared for the clash. Australia had a relatively easy outing in their other pool games, after their loss to Ireland, in the first.
The match will be especially intriguing as these teams with contrasting styles are well aware of how their quarter-final opponents play.
The Wallabies will look to Quade Cooper and Kurtley Beale to provide the attacking edge and put the Springboks’ defensive system to the test. Ahead of the game, Australia will be cheered by the return of Digby Loane to rugby action.
The last time these teams met was in Durban earlier this year; the Wallabies came up trumps on that occasion, after James O’Connor converted penalties to give them a 14-9 win. In fact, Australia have dominated South Africa in encounters in the last two seasons.
While South Africa have players with more World Cup experience, Australia have a younger team. Although bookies make Australia favourites to win, this is a close one to call.
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Jinxatious is the Chief Editor of SportingAttitude.com
An avid writer, on an eclectic range of subjects, he brings to bear editorial experience garnered with a national newspaper in South-East Asia. He also has sportscasting experience, as a cricket commentator, and his passion for sport extends beyond Cricket, to Football, Tennis, and Olympic Sports.