Pollard’s big battle against a wily Wallaby

Pollard’s big battle against a wily Wallaby

South Africa's Springboks Handre Pollard strikes a penalty shot during the Rugby Championship 2018 test match at Malvinas Argentinas stadium in Mendoza, some 1050 km west of Buenos Aires, Argentina on August 25, 2018. / AFP PHOTO / Andres Larrovere

The Springbok pivot desperately needs to find his mojo this weekend while having to contend with Bernard Foley.

At the conclusion of the 2015 World Cup at Twickenham, England, the names Bernard Foley and Handre Pollard were fresh in everyone’s minds.

Off the back of some superb creative rugby crafted by flyhalf Foley, the Wallabies had stormed into a final that many pundits tipped they wouldn’t make before the tournament started.

For the South Africans, a 21-year-old flyhalf called Handre Pollard kicked five goals from five attempts against New Zealand, outperforming the legendary Dan Carter with the boot in a thrilling semi-final.

Pollard (93) and Foley (82) finished second and third, respectively, for highest point scorers at this tournament. Now the pair are hoping to rediscover this form when they face-off this Saturday.

In the June International series against England, Pollard led the Springboks to an unassailable 2-0 lead before being named as a substitute for the final game.

He kicked 28 points in the two games he started but has struggled with the boot in The Rugby Championship.

Pollard has kicked just four goals from 11 attempts.

While he has been solid defensively, he went missing in attack as he failed to set up any tries against Argentina. Some have even called for him to vacate the number 10 jersey against the Wallabies.

Two straight losses against Ireland followed by back-to-back defeats against New Zealand have put Australia, and their playmaker, Foley, up against it.

He has been solid with the boot but struggled to find that same creativity from the 2015 World Cup, with the Wallabies scoring 20-plus points just once this year.

Two try assists against the All Blacks is certainly commendable, but Foley will need to step up in attack to lift Australia off the bottom of The Rugby Championship ladder.

Defensively, Foley has been outperformed by Pollard, and the South African playmaker will no doubt be sending traffic towards Foley in defence.

The Waratahs fly-half has been tidy with his goal-kicking and sits equal-second in his team for clean breaks behind only Marika Koroibete (5).

The running game of Foley and halves partner Will Genia is slightly ahead of their South African counterparts this series, especially when considering the Wallabies were up against the feared All Blacks pack.

Pollard and Foley have faced each other just once before, Pollard coming up trumps in Cape Town, 2014, with a 28-10 win.

This encounter is sure to be a perfect test to see which flyhalf is closer to rediscovering some 2015 World Cup form and get their side on track in the chase for the Web Ellis trophy in Japan next year.

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