Wallabies vs Springboks: Two in a row, but for which team?

BRISBANE, AUSTRALIA (AP) — The second Rugby Championship match in two weekends between Australia and South Africa (Today, 3pm Brunei Time) 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.

New Zealand’s Scott Barrett is tackled by Argentina’s Pablo Matero. PHOTO: AP

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 said 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, said 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 per cent 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 coach Jacques Nienaber made two changes to his starting lineup for today’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.

Meanwhile New Zealand’s dress rehearsal for its anticipated clash with world champion South Africa will take place without most of its stars in the second Rugby Championship test against Argentina today at Brisbane’s Suncorp Stadium.

The All Blacks and Springboks will meet in a test for the 100th time in a 25,000-seat stadium at Townsville in northern Queensland state next weekend. The Brisbane match (Today 6pm Brunei Time) against the Pumas is New Zealand’s last before the clash with South Africa and head coach Ian Foster has approached it by resting most of his leading players.

Foster has named a team with 11 changes among the starting 15 from the one which beat Argentina 39-0 in the first match between the teams last weekend. His swingeing changes include an all-new forward pack and, for the third time in as many matches, a change of captaincy.

To an extent, Foster is flexing his muscles, showing off the All Blacks’ depth. With every significant combination on the field altered, he still has done nothing that could be called radical.

He has handed Damian McKenzie the No 10 jersey for the second time in his career and the first in four years, stationing Beauden Barrett on the bench as Barrett nurses a minor calf muscle twinge.

Foster’s predecessor, Steve Hansen, saw McKenzie as a viable, long-term prospect at flyhalf and though his project to make him one was unavailing, he still is comfortable and competent in the role.

The midfield partnership is new, both wingers are changed from last week ago and only scrumhalf TJ Perenara, fullback Jordie Barrett and centre Rieko Ioane return. But the backline is likely to be no less polished or potent. Will Jordan on the right wing has scored 11 tries in only seven tests for New Zealand and Quinn Tupaea at inside centre is full of promise.

Ardie Savea will captain the team again after doing so for the first time in New Zealand’s win over Australia in Perth.

He sustained a minor head injury in that match and relinquished the leadership last week to lock Brodie Retallick.