Rugby Championship Round 4
New Zealand v South Africa
|New Zealand vs South Africa
Saturday 5:35pm at QBE Stadium, Albany
|Best Bet: Highest scoring half – 2nd half ($1.80)
Value Bet: New Zealand 1-12 ($3.50)
The two undefeated sides meet in Albany for a huge match-up that will go a long way to deciding the Rugby Championship. The South African 2017 renaissance will be put to its toughest test yet when they face a New Zealand side looking to impress after an underwhelming (by their standards) start to 2017.
Three changes to the Springbok pack from the side that drew in Perth last week. Lions prop Ruan Dreyer comes into replace the injured Coenie Oosthuizen. Lock Franco Mostert returns to the starting side to partner captain Eben Etzebeth in the second row with Pieter-Steph du Toit dropping onto the bench. The major loss sees Jaco Kriel having to return to the republic with a torn pectoral muscle, Jean-Luc du Preez will wear the 7 jersey.
All Blacks coach Steve Hansen has wheeled in the big artillery this week with Same Cane, Reiko Ioane, Ryan Crotty and Steve Whitelock returning after being rested last week. Chiefs prop Kane Hames was the surprise package named ahead of veteran Wyatt Crockett at tighthead prop. Boom rookie Vaea Fifita was the other big omission dropped from the 23 after his man of the match performance against the Pumas last week, Liam Squire will start at blindside flanker.
Stat that matters
South Africa and New Zealand square off for the 94th time since their first Test match in 1921. South Africa have won 35, lost 55 and three matches have ended in a draw. Last time they met, New Zealand scored 9 tries En Route to their largest ever win over the Springboks.
Last time they met
9th October 2017 – New Zealand 57 – 15 South Africa
Siya Kolisi vs Liam Squire: Siya Kolisi has been perhaps the find of the season for the Springboks with the dynamic blindside flanker having an outstanding year. He will need to lift to another level on Saturday evening without his partner in crime Jaco Kriel. Kolisi’s opposite number Liam Squire is another man with a lot to prove, Vaea Fifita was simply sensational last week and almost single handedly tore the Pumas pack to bits in the second half, including scoring one of the greatest individual tries you will see. Fortunately for Squire he had some runs on the board and Hansen has decided to stick with the Highlanders enforcer for now.
Both sides are undefeated in the Rugby Championship but will be looking to improve on last week’s performances. The Bokke led by 3 with minutes to go against the Wallabies but could only come away with a draw, whilst the All Blacks were behind at halftime against the Pumas before turning on a second half clinic to run away with a 17-point victory.
How it’s shaping
One of the games of the season. South Africa have the potential to cause the All Blacks some problems on Saturday night, particularly at scrum time. The Wolf is predicting the Springboks will stick it to the New Zealanders for 60 minutes before the men in black pull through late.
All Blacks by 10…
Australia v Argentina
|Australia vs Argentina
Saturday 8:00pm at GIO Stadium, Canberra
|Best Bet: Australia score first & win ($1.68)
Value Bet: Australia 1 -12 ($2.90)
Test match rugby returns to Canberra where the Wallabies will be looking for their first win of the Rugby Championships over a desperate Pumas side.
Michael Cheika has made just the one change to the starting XV that came away with a brave draw in Perth last weekend. Veteran Rob Simmons continues the yo-yo act in the second row coming into replace Rory Arnold. The big news on the interchange bench is the announcement of former NRL star Marika Korobiete who is set to become Wallaby number 911 if he graces the GIO stadium turf. Young gun Jordan Uluese proved he has what it takes on debut last weekend and has been given another chance off the pine in favour of Stephen Moore.
The tourists have gone with 3 changes as they attempt to win just their second game in 2017. Two major losses out wide with Joaquin Tuculet and Santiago Cordero ruled out through injury. Usual winger Emiliano Boffani has been shifted to fullback in Tuculet’s absence with Ramiro Moyano lining up on the left wing. It seems local knowledge wasn’t enough for Tomas Cubelli to keep his place in the starting XV. The former Brumbies halfback has been shifted to the bench in favour of Martin Landajo.
Last time they met
7 October 2016 – Australia 33 – 21 Argentina
Stat that matters
Australia have won 13 of their last 14 against the Pumas. Their only loss coming in 2014 in Mendoza. This includes two big wins over their southern hempishere rivals at the home of rugby – Twickenham. The Wallabies got a famous victory in the 2015 RWC semi-final before beating the South Americans in the Rugby Championship there last October.
Key Match – up
Tatafu Polota-Nau vs Augustin Creevy: The Wallabies set piece was a shambles last weekend and was a big reason in them not being able to close out the game. Whilst Polota -Nau was solid at around the park, in order to cement his spot as Australia’s premier hooker he really needs to lift his set piece . If he is looking for some inspiration he should look no further than directly across the scrum on Saturday. Creevy, the Argentinian captain was immense last week against the All Blacks and has firmly entrenched himself as one of the best hookers in world rugby.
Both sides have struggled in 2017. The Wallabies have 2 test wins from 6 starts after going down to the All Blacks twice, Scotland in Sydney and drawing with the Boks last week in Perth. The Pumas lost twice to an under-strength English side at home in June before beating Georgia. So far in the RC they have lost home and away to South Africa before giving the All Blacks a real scare last week.
How it’s shaping
Argentina proved last week that you can never write them off. The Wallabies will need to be far more clinical at the breakdown and at the set piece if they want to notch their first win of the Rugby Championship before heading off on tour. Some of Cheika’s selections have left the Wolf dumbfounded but he is more than happy to be proved wrong by the Wallabies head coach on, Simmons, Hanigan and McMahon who certainly have a lot to prove in the nation’s capital. For the record the Wolf is expecting a tight game at GIO stadium but thinks the Wallabies will have too much class out wide for the South Americans and will get home in a nail-biter.
Wallabies by 6