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Sun Apr 20 10:52:09 SAST 2014

Wallabies bring on the big guns for Bok clash

LIAM DEL CARME | 28 September, 2012 05:490 Comments
Nathan Sharpe will lead the Wallabies side for Saturday's Four Nations clash against the Springboks at Loftus Versveld stadium in Pretoria

THE Wallabies have braced themselves for a Springbok forward assault, naming five forwards on the bench for tomorrow's Four Nations match at Loftus.

Their pack is unchanged from the one that did just enough to repel the Pumas on the Gold Coast 13 days ago, while the only change at the back is Kurtley Beale's introduction to flyhalf at test level in the absence of the injured and often prickly Quade Cooper.

It is the Wallaby forwards, however, that will come under the most intense scrutiny as the Springboks go in search of their second victory on home soil in the competition.

Since unconvincingly beating the Pumas at Newlands, the Boks have had little to shout about and returned from their tour without a win - leaving coach Heyneke Meyer exposed to criticism.

Meyer would have pored over every detail to get his side battle- ready for tomorrow's must-win clash.

His forwards showed encouraging signs in the way they contested against the All Blacks in Dunedin, but they will have to make improvements in the line-outs.

Wallabies stand-in captain Nathan Sharpe will be playing his 110th match. Sharpe is the side's line-out kingpin and much will also revolve around him when the Springboks deploy their maul.

Sharpe will be without locking partner Sitaleki Timane, who has not recovered from a hamstring strain. He was also the worst afflicted in the touring group by a stomach bug earlier this week.

Timane is a big loss, especially when one considers he was the man of the match against the Springboks in Perth. The Wallabies will miss him, especially if the Boks establish gainline dominance and get a roll on in their maul .

They will almost certain hoist bombs on the visiting back three, but, to that end, the Wallabies have again named Berrick Barnes at fullback while Beale will be given licence to rove.

Beale has lined up in attacking plays as first receiver anyway so the switch should not require a huge adjustment. But the big question is if the sessions they've had with kicking consultant Braam van Straaten will pay dividends.

There is also the small matter of kicking for goal and coach Robbie Deans knows his side has very little room for error.

"Discipline is always key but there is no doubt about its importance when you play South Africa. They always have goalkickers who can kick goals on our side of halfway or even 60m at altitude in Francois' [Steyn] case."

Deans hasn't seen Johan Goosen line them up yet.

The Springboks should apply the finishing touches that so eluded them in Dunedin at Loftus tomorrow. Hopefully, their kicking game will finally take the shape Meyer has so pointedly illustrated on the drawing board. If that comes to pass, the Wallabies face a rather long journey to Rosario, where the Pumas lie in wait next week.

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Wallabies bring on the big guns for Bok clash

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