Rugby Championship Round 6
South Africa v New Zealand
|South Africa v New Zealand
Sunday 2:05am at DHL Newlands Stadium, Cape Town
|Best Bet: New Zealand 13+ ($1.67)
Value Bet: South Africa score first and lose ($3.00)
The penultimate game of the Rugby Championships sees traditional rivals New Zealand and South Africa face off at the foot of Table Mountain.
The All Blacks return to full strength this week with coach Steve Hansen naming seven changes to the side that got a bonus point win in Buneo Aires last week. Experienced duo Sam Cane and Sam Whitelock return to the starting XV alongside Liam Squire to bolster the pack while Ryan Crotty and Nehe Milner-Skudder have been named out wide.
Several changes to the Springbok side as they attempt to shore up second place on the Rugby Championship ladder. Lood De Jager earns a start in the second row partnering skipper Eben Etzebeth, with Pieter -Steph Du Toit shifting to blindside flanker to accommodate the giant Bulls lock. This sees Francois Louw moving to the base of the scrum at the expense of Uzair Cassiem who suffered some broken ribs in the draw with the Wallabies last week.
Last time they met
23 September 2017 – New Zealand 57 – 0 South Africa
Stat that matters
The 57-0 thrashing in Auckland 3 weeks ago, is the All Blacks largest ever score and winning margin against the South Africans. It’s also the biggest loss inflicted on the Springboks and just the 3rd time they have been held to 0
Ross Cronje vs Aaron Smith
It’s no coincidence the Boks worst performance all year came with Cronje unavailable. The little blonde halfback has been a revelation for both the Lions and the national side in 2017 with his organization, quick service and partnership with Elton Jantjies crucial to the rainbow nations attack. He will be up against it on Saturday night however when he faces the best halfback in the game Aaron Smith. After a lean 2016 which included an incriminating sex scandal and saw him relegated to 2nd fiddle behind TJ Perenara, Smith has bounced back in 2017 to returning to his frightening best throughout the RC in particular.
Both sides have lost just the one game in 2017, however they were under very different circumstances. The 14 man All Blacks went down by 3 points to the Lions in the 2nd test in Wellington, whilst as mentioned earlier the Springboks were obliterated in Albany late September. New Zealand were outstanding in the first half last week in Bueno Aires rushing out to a 29 – 3 lead at the break, they will be disappointed with their second forty however with too many errors seeing the second half score line level finish at 7 points apiece . The Boks will also be hurting after their performance in Bloemfontein where they slumped to their second draw of the year against the Wallabies.
How it’s shaping
The Wolf is expecting a much-improved showing from the Springboks in front of a passionate Cape Town crowd, but whether they can spring an upset remains to be seen. They have named a large forward pack and will look to put pressure on the ABs at scrum and lineout time. The Wolf feels there will be nothing between the two side for the opening 60 minutes or so before the World’s greatest sporting team show there class and run away with it.
New Zealand by 15
Argentina v Australia
|Argentina v Australia
Sunday 9:40am at Estadio Malvinas, Argentinas, Mendoza
|Best bet: Australia first half line – 3.5 ($1.90)
Value bet: Australia 13+ ($2.65)
The Wallabies can end the Rugby Championship on a high and secure second spot on the table with a win over the Pumas in Mendoza.
The Wallabies have named an unchanged starting XV for the first time this championship with Michael Chieka showing faith in the boys that went close to pulling off a famous win at altitude last week. Just the two changes on the bench with prop Tetera Faulkner set to play his first test match of 2017 after some impressive showings in the NRC. The 6 – 2 bench split has been abandoned with Henry Speight assuming the role of reserve outside back at the expense of Ned Hanigan.
The Pumas are expected to make minimal changes when their side is announced late on Friday.
Last time they met
16th September 2017 – Australia 45 – 20 Argentina
Stat that matters
Israel Folau has already broken the Australian record for tries in a calendar year. Folau has 11 ‘Meat Pies’ from just 8 games and scored a double last time the Wallabies met the Pumas in Canberra. The Wolf is expecting the Wallabies mercurial fullback to again cross the chalk in Mendoza.
Tomas Lavanini vs Adam Coleman – There will be no love lost when these two big enforcers clash in the second row. Coleman has been immense for the Wallabies in 2017 and with the giant lock off contract after the removal of the Force he should be the ARUs number one priority in terms of resignings. Tomas Lavanini has experienced an indifferent rugby championship campaign. The 130kg behemoth has looked good around the park, but his discipline has really let the Pumas down with Lavanini receiving 3 yellow cards from just 3 RC championship games.
It was a brave 2nd half performance from the Argentines in Bueno Aires last week. Down 29-3 at halftime, the Wolf was expecting the All Blacks to go on with the job and put an absolute cricket cricket score on the hosts but to Argentina’s credit they fought hard to draw the 2nd 40 minutes 7-7 giving them their loyal fans some hope for the final game of the Rugby Championship against the Wallabies. The Australians were impressive last week, and perhaps should have gone onto to beat the Springboks in Bloemfontein. There are some seriously good connections forming in the backline and the Wolf is excited about future prospects.
How it’s shaping
Ever since the 2nd Bledisloe Cup match in Dunedin he Wallabies have been playing some inspired rugby. The front and back row conundrum looks to be sorted for the time being with both units performing admirably in South Africa. The back line is the real weapon for the men in gold and now sits behind only the All Blacks in terms of class. Unfortunately, the Wallabies undoing over the last 18 months has been a sheer lack of consistency so it is important that they turn up on Sunday Morning (AEDST) and put the Pumas to the sword ahead of the 3rd Bledisloe in Brisbane and the all-important Spring tour.
Wallabies by 14