Depleted Australia to find no solace against South Africa
Crunch time for Australia in the Tri Nations as they entertain current leaders South Africa in Perth and they are going to need an almighty performance to defy odds of 6/4 about a home win.
The Australian media has been all over their side after their 19-18 loss to New Zealand last time which puts them in a perilous position, while South Africa will know defeat will hand momentum to the All Blacks with three away fixtures coming up for the Springboks.
The away side have been chalked up as 1/2 favourites and it is easy to see why with an already struggling Wallaby side making slow progress and fresh injuries ravage the team further with Berrick Barnes and Nathan Sharpe both ruled out.
South Africa meanwhile replace Frans Steyn with Ruan Pienaar which is no great loss replacing a big boot with a better rugby brain and Morne Steyn at fly half has proved he can do the high ball kicking job admirably.
It is worth noting that Australia have won their last five games against the Springboks on home turf, including a 16-9 win in Perth in 2008.
Despite their injury problems this could well be closer than the odds suggest and handicap giving the Aussies a four point head start at 10/11 may be slightly beyond their reach but will not be far off, and a winning margin to the away side of 6-10 points at 9/2 could be the call.
Australian scrum-half Luke Burgess has been heavily criticised for not getting enough ball to key man Matt Giteau has become a big talking point in the media although Giteau has not been himself of late but with plenty of ball and a bit more space he could produce some the brilliance that we know he is capable of.
The forwards do look more even with Rocky Elsom and George Smith a fantastic combination while the Aussie front row has been underrated and should be a match for South Africa.
It would be no surprise to see Australia make their usual fast start and backing them on the half time betting at 5/4 wouldn't be a bad move as could Australia/South Africa in the double result market at 5/1.
The home side do have an excellent defence which has only conceded one try in each of their defeats and they have the creative potential to score a try at any given moment which brings in to play the 6/5 on offer about Australia scoring the first team try.
It is hard to see them keeping the pace up for the whole game though and South Africa have the luxury of calling on the likes of Frans Steyn and the returning from suspension Schalk Burger off the bench which could devastate the home side late on.
With the Wallabies almost written off by much of their nation they may find it easier to play with some of the pressure off, but this looks a matchup between the confident triumphant and the determined desperate, and while determination will get you so far, confidence will usually rule over desperation.
South Africa to win by 6-10 points - 9/2
Australia/South Africa - 5/1