Sat, Sep 09, 2006 - Page 18 News List

Springboks aim to finish on a high

AFP , JOHANNESBURG

The Springboks celebrate last weekend's victory over the All Blacks at the Royal Bafokeng stadium in Rustenburg, South Africa.

PHOTO: AFP

Springbok coach Jake White is planning all-out attack as South Africa aim to bring the curtain down on the Tri-Nations season in Johannesburg today with a convincing win over Australia.

Despite being thrashed 49-0 by the Wallabies in July, South Africa can ensure they finish on a high by recording a second victory following last week's stunning upset of the All Blacks.

Irrespective of the result at Ellis Park, Australia (11 points) will end the campaign in second place behind New Zealand while the 'Boks must settle for third.

White's men have only recorded one win in the competition, but on home soil, and at altitude, will be confident of repeating last week's effort.

The Australians have struggled on the high veld before; their last win coming in Johannesburg way back in 1963.

To alleviate the problem Australian coach John Connolly opted to break with past routines and train in Johannesburg this week instead of at sea level.

"We're doing things a bit differently this time. Training at the coast and coming up a day or two before the game hasn't really worked for us so we've decided to give ourselves eight days at altitude to get used to the conditions we'll be facing," Connolly said.

The Wallabies though will seemingly need more than a change in pre-match tactics if they're going to rewrite the record books.

The 'Boks look stronger and more dangerous than at any other stage this season -- and they'll be confident after ending the All Blacks' winning run last weekend.

In J.P. Pietersen the home side have a 20-year-old fullback who is free-running and not scared to take a chance, while attacking flyhalf Andre Pretorius will be on his home ground.

"My strength is with ball in hand," said Pietersen, who will make his 'Bok debut.

"I enjoy running with the ball and linking with the backline and while I'm a bit nervous, I'm also very excited," he said.

Pietersen will indeed add an extra attacking dimension to the 'Boks, but he's sure to be tested by the Wallaby backs, who have already indicated they may target the new man as well as left wing Wynand Olivier, a regular center who's taken the place of the injured Bryan Habana.

Not only will the 'Bok back division have to be at their very best under the high balls that are sure to come their way, but also in their defensive alignment.

The Wallabies are one of the craftiest teams around with players like Stephen Larkham, Matt Giteau and Stirling Mortlock sure to pose plenty of questions.

Chris Latham at fullback is also one of the most deadly attackers from deep. Connolly has also handed creative Western Force player Cameron Shepherd a first Wallaby start on the wing, while young Benn Robinson makes his debut at loosehead prop.

The Wallabies have had problems with their scrums all year and today should be no different. Robinson is only 22 and hardly a player to have the 'Boks worried. He, and the rest of the tight-five, can expect a grilling by a powerful Springbok pack.

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