South Africa and England meet in the third and last Test of the 2012 series in Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium in Port Elizabeth on Saturday.
The series is won for the Springboks and yet it is a Test match. There must be pride, and yet the last time they were 2-0 up in a series, they played around and were hammered 28-9 by the B&I Lions who then went home with an air of satisfaction. Could it happen again this time?
Certainly. Somehow there is an air of unreality about the match. After all it must be unique in the annals of the South African game that a first-choice player declares himself unavailable for a Test in order to get married. In come Jacques Potgieter who is just back from injury and Gio Aplon the third starting fullback in successive matches. Then Ryan Kankowski is on the bench though he has hardly played a match this year and is on his way to Japan. What the Springboks achieve in this match depends almost entirely on their mental tuning.
So far in the series South Africa have managed a good 60 minutes out of 160 minutes. Those good minutes gave them victory. Imagine what they could achieve if they could lift that to 80 minutes in this match.
England could well take heart from the fact that they could have won both of the first two Tests of the series. They have pride and they have fight. They could win the match and go home with an air of satisfaction.
Players to Watch:
There are players on both sides that can split a game wide open - Chris Ashton and Ben Foden on the England wings and Danny Care at scrumhalf, and Gio Aplon, Springboks wings Bryan Habana and, on the evidence of the second Test, JP Pietersen and François Hougaard at scrumhalf. There could be thrills if those players get going, and of them all the player most watchable is Aplon with his electricity and effortless speed.
You would also watch newcomers Alex Goode at fullback for England and rugged Jacques Potgieter on the flank for South Africa. Rough and ready Potgieter could be the great force in the tonight loose. Will his most obvious opponent, James Haskell, behave?
The strongmen who most delight the spectators are Eben Etzebeth and Tendai Mtawarira. The England forward most likely to claim attention is the busy New Zealander Thomas Waldrom.
Head to Head:
The centres: The brawny England pair of Manu Tuilagi and Jonathan Joseph have had little impact so far and are up against Wynand Olivier and Jean de Villiers who has been the outstanding centre of the series. It would be surprising if Olivier had an impact on the Test. But the clash in the centres is always intriguing. A midfield break always has the greatest potential.
At scrumhalf there is the clash between François Hougaard and lively Danny Care. Hougaard was brilliant in the first twenty minutes of the second test with his rapid clearing from the tackle.
It's hard to see the England front row standing up to the strong South African trio.
2012: South Africa won 36-27 in Johannesburg
2012: South Africa won 22-17 in Durban
2010: South Africa won 21-11 in London
2008: South Africa won 42-6 in London
2007: South Africa won 15-6 in Paris
2007: South Africa won 36-0 in Paris
2007: South Africa won 55-22 in Pretoria
2007: South Africa won 58-10 in Bloemfontein
2006: South Africa won 25-14 in London
2006: England won 23-21 in London
2004: England won 32-16 in London
2003: England won 25-6 in Perth
Prediction: Surely there will not be another B&I Lions collapse. Surely the Springboks will want to take their side a step nearer distant perfection. If that is their striving and that their focus they could well win by well over 10 points which would give them a 10th successive win over England.
South Africa: 15 Gio Aplon, 14 JP Pietersen, 13 Jean de Villiers, 12 Wynand Olivier, 11 Bryan Habana, 10 Morné Steyn, 9 François Hougaard, 8 Pierre Spies, 7 Jacques Potgieter, 6 Marcell Coetzee, 5 Juandré Kruger, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Jannie du Plessis, 2 Bismarck du Plessis, 1 Tendai Mtawarira.
Replacements: 16 Adriaan Strauss, 17 Werner Kruger, 18 Flip van der Merwe, 19 Ryan Kankowski, 20 Ruan Pienaar, 21 Elton Jantjies, 22 Bjorn Basson.
England: 15 Alex Goode, 14 Chris Ashton, 13 Jonathan Joseph, 12 Manusamoa Tuilagi, 11 Ben Foden, 10 Toby Flood, 9 Danny Care, 8 Thomas Waldrom, 7 James Haskell, 6 Tom Johnson, 5 Geoff Parling, 4 Tom Palmer, 3 Dan Cole, 2 Dylan Hartley (captain), 1 Joe Marler.
Replacements: 16 Lee Mears, 17 Paul Doran Jones, 18 Mouritz Botha, 19 Phil Dowson, 20 Lee Dickson, 21 Owen Farrell, 22 Brad Barritt.
Date: Saturday, 23 June
Kick-off: 17.05 (15.05 GMT)
Venue: Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium, Port Elizabeth
Expected weather: It seems that the rain may well hold off in the afternoon which will reach a high of 21°C, dropping to 13°C. Windy at times, but then it is PE.
Referee: Steve Walsh (Australia)
Assistant referees: Nigel Owens (Wales), John Lacey (Ireland)
TMO: Giulio De Santis (Italy)
By Paul Dobson