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South Africa vs Australia - Australia tipped for victory at Ellis Park in Rugby Championship

Weakened South Africa set to struggle for continuity in opening match
Australia vs South Africa rugby championship 2018
Australia travel down to South Africa to open the Rugby Championship and are tipped for victory over the Springboks (Getty Images)

South Africa vs Australia Preview, Predictions & Betting Tips

The shortened 2019 Rugby Championship kicks off on Saturday afternoon as Australia visit Ellis Park to play South Africa. The hosts have decided to play a weakened side as they think ahead so I am backing Australia to cover the +5 handicap at 1.90 with value on an outright victory at 2.65.

The Wallabies have been tipped to claim the Rugby Championship title in our tournament preview.

South Africa Form & Team News

The Springboks go into this clash with a lot more on their mind than perhaps there should be. Head coach Rassie Erasmus has confirmed that 15 players will be sent to New Zealand this week to prepare for next week’s clash with the All Blacks.

It's widely expected that this weekend will see a weakened line-up face the Wallabies. There will be a number of new combinations in the Springbok squad and despite most having international experience, some have not played for some time.

Cobus Reinach is likely to start at scrumhalf and he has not played since 2015. The other option is Hershel Jantjies who will make his debut from the bench or start. Elton Jantjies will start at flyhalf but has never played a match with either scrumhalf.

It is a risky tactic by Rassie Erasmus and one I think will backfire. There is no value in an outright South African win at 1.50 while a draw (which they did in 2017) is paying 26.00.

Rassie Erasmus
Rassie Erasmus is taking a massive risk by playing a severely weakened side against Australia (Getty Images)

Australia Form & Team News

The Wallabies travelled to South Africa a few days early to combat the altitude at Ellis Park on Saturday, something which could work well in their favour. While the visitors will also look to experiment it will be a far lower level than their South African counterparts.

Australia had a terrible 2018 losing nine of their 13 test matches but they will want to rectify that form prior to the World Cup. I expect a near full strength Wallaby side to run out at Ellis Park on Saturday.

James O’Connor has become available for national selection after signing a contract with the Reds this week and could make a return to the side this week. 

Australia’s record in South Africa isn’t great but they were slightly unfortunate in their 23-12 defeat last year while they drew in the Republic in 2017. I expect them to cover the +5 handicap at 1.90 and I will place a bet on a Wallabies victory against the odds at 2.65.

South Africa vs Australia Head to Head

South Africa has won seven of the last 10 matches against Australia in South Africa with one draw (in 2017) and the Wallabies claiming two victories in 2010 and 2011.

In their clash last year at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium the hosts ran out fortunate 23-12 victors. They finished on two tries apiece but Handre Pollard’s three penalties ended up being the difference.

South Africa vs Australia Match Up

Two contrasting styles of play can be expected. South Africa will bring their usual physical style of play and try to dominate the set piece, a known weakness of the Wallabies.

The Wallabies on the other hand will steer away from the set piece game and focus more on a high percentage of ball-in-play time. If Australia manage that they have a backline which can hurt the Springboks.

james o'connor playing for australia
James O'Connor could make his long awaited return to the international scene against South Africa (Getty Images)

South Africa vs Australia Key Statistics

  • South Africa are selecting a largely second string team against Australia.
  • Australia will be at full strength against South Africa barring a few injuries.
  • Australia flew out a few days earlier to combat the high altitude of Johannesburg.


Australia have arrived in South Africa with a close to full strength line-up and will come up against a Springbok side that are far from full strength. I am tipping the visitors to cover the +5 handicap at 1.90 while victory is a real possibility at 2.65.

Best Bet: Australia +5 Handicap @ 1.90 at bet365 – 4 Units
Value Bet: Australia Win @ 2.65 at bet365 – 2 Units

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