|Rugby Championship Match||Best Bets
|Australia v South Africa
|Best: South Africa to win ($2.35)
Value: South Africa by 6-10 ($8.50)
|New Zealand v Argentina
|Best: New Zealand -23.5 ($1.90)
Value: New Zealand 26-30 ($7)
Australia v South Africa
8:05pm (AEST), Saturday, September 10 at Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane
Two beleaguered teams come together in Brisbane on Saturday night, with the Wallabies on a six-Test losing streak and the Springboks looking to bounce back from a shock loss to Argentina.
Michael Cheika has retained the Cooper-Foley combination at No.10 and 12, while Reece Hodge makes his first Test start on the wing after Adam Ashley-Cooper’s departure. Dean Mumm has usurped Scott Fardy at blindside flanker in an attempt to bolster the Wallabies line-out. For the Springboks, Jesse Kriel and Juan de Jongh are the new centre pairing, while Francois Hougaard replaces injured winger Ruan Cornbrinck.
In 81 previous clashes, South Africa lead the match tally 45-35-1. But on Australian soil, the Wallabies hold a 23-12-1 advantage. Australia prevailed 24-20 at Suncorp Stadium in the nations’ only encounter last year.
Following on from a disappointing 3-0 whitewash on home soil at the hands of England, the Wallabies have been hammered twice by the All Blacks, outscored 10 tries to one in a 43-8 drubbing in Sydney and a 29-9 rout in Wellington. South Africa got out of jail with two late tries in a 30-23 home win over Argentina, but were edged out 26-24 by the Pumas in the return clash in Salta.
The Wallabies’ continued gamble with Quade Cooper in the No.10 jumper will heavily influence the hosts’ fortunes. Opposing flyhalf Elton Jantjies is a similar style player, although much more consistent, but he hasn’t transferred his electric Super Rugby form to the Rugby Championship stage thus far.
Stats That Matter
Both sides are 0-2 against the start in this year’s Rugby Championship. The Wallabies have won seven of their eight Tests against the Springboks at Suncorp, including five by 15 points or more. The Springboks have won four of their last six against the Wallabies, but only one of the last three. South Africa have won one of their last seven Tests in Australia.
The Wallabies are in a mess, and sticking with virtually the same backline is unlikely to aid their bid to regain respectability. Bringing Mumm in for Fardy to boost their battling line-out only emphasises their weaknesses in the second-row – and they will struggle against Springbok twin towers Etzebeth and de Jager. The visitors, meanwhile, have pulled the right rein with selecting powerful centre de Jongh and Kriel, who could cause real carnage in the inexperienced Wallabies midfield. The Boks are impossible to resist as underdogs here, despite their ordinary record in Brisbane.
The Way It’s Shaping
South Africa by 7
South Africa to win ($2.35)
South Africa by 6-10 ($8.50)
New Zealand v Argentina
5:35pm (AEST), Saturday, September 10 at Waikato Stadium, Hamilton
Fresh off an upset victory over the Springboks, the Pumas face an ominous assignment against the red-hot world champions this Saturday.
Ryan Crotty returns in the No.12 jumper at the expense of Anton Lienert-Brown after sitting out the Wellington clash with the Wallabies due to a head knock. Lienert-Brown moves back to the bench. Moroni Matias comes onto the Pumas’ wing for Manuel Montero, Javier Ortega Desio replaces Juan Manuel Leguizamon in the No.7, and Guido Petti comes in for veteran lock Tomas Lavanini.
The nations have met in 22 Test matches, with New Zealand winning 21 and one match drawn. The All Blacks have won all 12 of their matches against Argentina on home soil. The All Blacks won 39-18 in Christchurch last year, before a scratchy 26-16 win at Wembley during the World Cup.
The All Blacks could hardly have been more impressive in their first two matches of the Rugby Championship, destroying the Wallabies 43-8 in Sydney and notching a 29-9 win over their trans-Tasman rivals in Wellington a week later – scoring a total of 10 tries to one in the process. After having their hearts broken by two late South African tries in the opener at Nelspruit, Argentina scored a historic 26-24 win over the Springboks in Salta via a penalty goal in the dying minutes.
Inspirational captain and hooker Agustin Creevy scored two tries in Argentina’s last visit to New Zealand, while Dane Coles’ gutsy, dynamic performances in the face of a painful rib injury have been a feature of the All Blacks’ RC campaign.
Stats That Matter
Both teams are 2-0 against the start during this Rugby Championship campaign. All 12 of the All Blacks’ home wins over the Pumas have come by 15-plus margins. New Zealand has never scored less than 21 points against Argentina; Argentina has never scored more than 21 points against New Zealand. Just one of the All Blacks’ last 10 wins over the Pumas was by a margin of more than 21 points – this week’s line is 23.5 points.
A maiden Argentina victory over New Zealand would rank as the biggest upset in international rugby history. But despite the All Blacks’ blistering recent form, it may not be all one-way traffic. The Pumas have given the world champs some headaches in recent seasons – including in an unconvincing World Cup pool result last year – and their big, physical pack will be an improvement on what the ABs faced against Australia. It’s in the backs, however, where the hosts hold a massive advantage – both in attack and defence. The All Blacks may have had trouble putting the Pumas away over the last decade, but with the ruthless touch they’re in at present, expect them to power past the points start.
The Way It’s Shaping
New Zealand by 29
New Zealand -23.5 ($1.90)
New Zealand 26-30 ($7)