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Last Updated: Thursday, 25 September, 2003, 17:21 GMT 18:21 UK
Form guide: South Africa
Brent Russell has starred for much of 2003 for the Springboks
Russell has starred for much of 2003 for the Springboks
South Africa's World Cup showing will depend on which team turns up to play on the day.

Already this season they have beaten the world champions Australia before being annihilated by New Zealand, as well as failing to convince in a double-header against Scotland.

And their preparation has been beset by off-field problems over their discipline and allegations of racism within the squad.

A number of new faces have increasingly broken into their starting line-up, but coach Rudolf Strauli has yet to settle on a winning combination.

Having lost all three games on their northern hemisphere tour at the end of 2002, South Africa were keen to kick-off their 2003 campaign with a winning start over Scotland.

It was also the chance to gain revenge against the Scots following a surprise defeat at Murrayfield in November 2002.

However, the hosts made heavy weather of their challenge in Durban and only a barrage of 17 points in 11 second-half minutes enabled the Springboks to stage an unlikely comeback.

FORM IN 2003
Tries from Stefan Terblanche and Trevor Halstead and a steady stream of points from the boot of Louis Koen were enough for them to snatch victory at the death.

Koen has proved indispensable this season and his precise kicking was again crucial a week on when South Africa came from behind to beat Scotland.

Terblanche got in on the act again with a try, but it was Koen who took the headlines, as he did against Argentina in their final match before the Tri-Nations.

Already accustomed to nail-biting finishes, South Africa and Koen came through by a single point against the Pumas, a penalty from the last kick of the game denying the visitors a first test win over their hosts.

Koen, who scored 16 points, finished the match with a 100% return from six shots at goal.

Against all expectations the Springboks maintained their winning run at the start of the Tri-Nations against Australia.

Try: N drie
Penalty: N strafskop
Tackle: N laagvat
Come on ref: Kom nou rel
Cauliflower ears: Blomkool ore

They stifled the Australians throughout and having scored two first-half tries through Brent Russell and Victor Matfield held on to claim a 26-22 win after a frantic final quarter.

That was as good as it got for South Africa.

Their season tailed off, starting with a trouncing at the hands of New Zealand.

The Springboks were outclassed throughout in Pretoria, Ashwin Willemse's try their only answer to seven All Black touchdowns.

South Africa fared better at the start of their second game against Australia and at least stayed in contact with their opponents until early in his second half.

However, the match will be remembered for the violent scenes which marred the contest and resulted in Toutai Kefu being carried off on a stretcher following a high tackle.

Springbok pride was restored a week on with their most polished performance of the competition.

Despite coming away from Dunedin as 19-11 losers to New Zealand, they were defensively far more astute and ended with a stunning score from prop Richard Bands.

Since their last action on the pitch, preparations have been blighted by internal race rows.

An inquiry was launched into allegations of "racism and prejudice" within the squad which was subsequently delayed to let Strauli's team concentrate on the World Cup.

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