Rugby Union: Teichmann takes `intellectual' approach to finale

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By Michael Finch

GARY TEICHMANN hopes to celebrate a record-equalling 29th appearance as Springbok captain today by beating Australia in the final Tri-Nations game at Ellis Park, Johannesburg.

The 28-year-old will equal Francois Pienaar's record for the number of appearances as captain at the ground where Pienaar made history three years ago, when South Africa upset New Zealand to win the World Cup. It will be the first time Australia have played at the ground since losing there in 1969 and they face a Springbok side unbeaten in this year's competition.

While South Africa are favourites to win the match and the Tri-Nations trophy, the Springbok coach, Nick Mallett, is cautious: "If you look at our results this year we've probably been the luckiest team in the competition," Mallett said. "I could be in the same position as [New Zealand coach] John Hart, having played quite competitively but with three losses."

South Africa edged out Australia 14-13 in their first match, beat the All Blacks 13-3 in their second and then managed a stirring late comeback to edge past New Zealand 24-23.

"In many ways, Australia are playing the kind of rugby that I would like to see our guys play," Mallett said. "There's not many weaknesses and they believe in their ability to maintain possession."

South Africa's game plan will centre around their scrum-half, Joost van der Westhuizen, whose try against New Zealand last week signalled the comeback from 23-5 down.

"I think the team that plays the most intellectual game will win," Teichmann said. "It's a matter of thinking on your feet and keeping the ball in hand."

The Australia coach, Rod MacQueen, believes the difference will be simpler than that: "It will be the team that does the basics the best that will win."

With Stephen Larkham now in his natural stand-off position, Australia's talented backs should be the biggest headache for the South African defence, although Larkham's opposite number, Henry Honiball, has been singled out by the Australians as a real threat.

South Africa: Montgomery; Terblanche, Snyman, Muller, Rossouw; Honiball, Van der Westhuizen; Kempson, Dalton, Garvey, Otto, Andrews, Erasmus, Venter, Teichmann (capt).

Australia: Burke; Tune, Herbert, Horan, Roff; Larkham, Gregan; Crowley, Kearns, Blades, Bowman, Eales (capt), Cockbain, Wilson, Kefu.