Rugby Championship Round 2
Australia v New Zealand (Bledisloe Cup Game 2)
|All Blacks v Wallabies
5:35pm (AEST) Saturday 26th August 2017
at Forsyth Barr Stadium, Dunedin
|Best Bet: Australia +26.5 ($1.90)
Value Bet: Rieko Ioane to score 2+ tries ($6.00)
The Wallabies travel across the ditch to attempt to avenge some demons from last week and keep the battle for the Bledisloe cup alive. Much has been made in the media of the Wallabies appalling first half defensive effort last week, the wolf is predicting a much improved all round showing from the Australians, but will it be enough to cause one of the biggest upsets in Rugby history?
The All Blacks have made four changes to their match day 23 to face the Wallabies. In the front row veteran Props Owen Franks and Wyatt Crockett have succumbed to injury and will be replaced by Nepo Laulala and Kane Hames respectively. Gun hooker Dane Coles will also return to anchor the scrum forcing Codie Taylor back to the bench and Nathan Harris out of the squad. The eldest of the Barrett brothers, Scott, also gets a chance off the pine in place of the injured Luke Romano.
It’s a case of out with the new and in with the old for the Wallabies in Dunedin. Surprisingly, Wallabies coach Michael Chieka has resisted making mass changes following last weekend disaster, instead he has opted to shore up his side with a couple of experienced heads. In the forwards, Rob Simmons returns to the second row in place of Rory Arnold, In the backs, Samu Kerevi has been punished for his abysmal defence effort at ANZ stadium dropping out of the 23 and replaced by Tevita Kuridrani, whilst the ever-reliable Dane Haylett-Petty has recovered from his bicep injury to assume his rightful place on the left wing forcing Curtis Rona to the bench.
Last time they met
19th August 2017, ANZ Stadium Sydney – Wallabies 34 – 54 – All Blacks.
Stat that matters
It wasn’t all doom and gloom for Australia last weekend. The Wallabies scored more points in the 2nd half in Sydney than they did across all 3 tests against New Zealand last year.
Tevita Kuridrani vs Ryan Crotty
Kuridrani has been bought into this Wallabies side to shore up their defence and don’t they need it. The Wallabies stalwart was impressive after coming on at halftime and the Wolf doesn’t think it’s a coincidence that they outscored the All Blacks with the big Fijian on the field. His opposite number Ryan Crotty has come into his own in 2017 and firmly stamped himself as one of the premier centres in world rugby. He was outstanding last week in Sydney with his astute defence and underrated skillset playing a big part in the All Blacks dominant performance.
It was game over at halftime in Sydney with The Wallabies putting forward their worst 1st half performance in their history and trailed 40-6 at the break. After 50 minutes the scoreline was 54-6 and it looked as if the All Blacks were going to score 80 odd. Then the tide turned. The Wallabies started holding onto the ball and were able to score 4 tries to close out the game, leading some optimistic supporters with hope for Saturday afternoon. The All Blacks haven’t lost to the Wallabies in New Zealand since 2001, in Dunedin of all places.
How it’s shaping
The Men in gold will be desperate to win back some respect after being hammered in the Australian press during the week. Their attack was some of the best the Wolf has seen from the Wallabies in the last few years. Kurtley Beale looks fit and ready to fire and if Israel Folau, DHP and Henry Speight get some front football who knows what could happen. Unfortunately, the All Blacks forward pack is a class above Australia’s at the moment and they should set the platform for their 7th straight victory over their arch rivals. The Wolf is predicting the Wallabies will come out firing and match the All Blacks for the opening 20 minutes or so but unfortunately from then on it will be the all too familiar story and the greatest international sport team on the planet will dominate proceedings under the roof in Dunedin.
All Blacks by 19
Argentina vs South Africa
|Argentina v South Africa
Sunday 3:30am (AEST)
at Father Martearena Stadium Salta, Argentina
|Best Bet: Highest scoring half – Second (1.85)
Value Bet: HT/NT Double – Argentina/South Africa ($6.50)
The Pumas will be out for revenge after the Springboks put them to the sword last week in Port Elizabeth. However, the South Africans know all too well Argentina are a different beast at home and will need to be at the top of their game to open the Rugby Championship with 2 wins from 2 games 2 in Salta.
Argentina’s head coach Daniel Hourcade has named a team with six changes ahead of the must win clash in the North West corner of the country. In the forwards Leonardo Senatore and Nahuel Tetaz Chaparro are ruled out due to injury while Lucas Noguera Paz has been brought into the front row. Prop, Ramiro Herrera also has also got the call up for Enrique Pieretto, while Guido Petti has been replaced by Matías Alemanno while veteran backrower Juan Leguizamón has been selected to start at 8. Tomás Cubelli and Juan Martín Hernández will make up an experienced halves pairing.
South Africa have stuck with a winning formula, making just one change to last weeks’ side. Experienced halfback Francois Hougaard has returned from a stint in sevens to replace injured Ross Cronje in the starting lineup. Rudy Paige has been called onto the bench.
Last time they met- 19/08/2017- South Africa 37 Argentina 15
Stat that matters
Despite both sides being traditionally strong up front, the average points scored when the two sides meet stands at 55. The Wolf is predicting another high scoring affair on a dry track in Salta.
Tomas Cubelli vs Francois Hougaard: Both halfbacks move to the starting line up this week and will be looking to make big impressions. Martin Landajo was one the Argentines best last week, so Cubelli will count himself lucky to find a place in the Pumas starting XV but Australian fans know how instrumental the nippy number 9 can be attack following his two year stint at the Brumbies. All eyes will be on Hougaard as he returns to the 15 man game after a stint with the sevens team. Even though he has 44 caps to his name, he has never really solidified his spot in the team, often floating between halfback and the wing, but the Wolf thinks the injury to the impressive Ross Cronje is the perfect opportunity for Derrick Hougaard to step up to the plate and do just that.
The Springboks are undefeated in 2017, winning their last 4 matches, including a superb clean sweep of France during the June internationals. There attack has been particularly notable, scoring over 35 points in each of those 4 wins. The same can’t be said for Argentina’s start to the year, they have struggled winning just 1 of their last 4 matches, including two losses to an understrength England at home. Nevertheless, The Pumas will take some confidence from their narrow win over South Africa last year in Salta.
How it’s shaping up
The Wolf expects the Pumas to be a different side in front of their home fans. They started well last week but couldn’t match the Springboks intensity for 80 minutes. It will be a much closer game this week but South Africa have some serious momentum coming out of a solid Super Rugby season and will be a very hard side to stop on Sunday morning (AEST).
Final thoughts- South Africa by 6