The following is a preview of the Round 6 Rugby Championship clash between South Africa and New Zealand at Ellis Park in Johannesburg. The game kicks off at 1:00 AM AEST on Sunday, the 6th of October. The referee is Nigel Owens from Wales.
The All Blacks remain undefeated in the Rugby Championship while the Springboks have just the one defeat this season. Below are each side’s 2013 Rugby Championship results so far.
South Africa 73-13 Argentina
Argentina 17-22 South Africa
Australia 12-38 South Africa
New Zealand 29-15 South Africa
South Africa 28-8 Australia
Australia 29-47 New Zealand
New Zealand 27-16 Australia
New Zealand 28-13 Argentina
New Zealand 29-15 South Africa
Argentina 15-33 New Zealand
Despite their fierce rivalry, the All Blacks have actually won seven of the last eight Tests against the Springboks, including two of the last three in South Africa. The All Blacks were victorious in their two previous meetings in Johannesburg – winning 32-16 in 2012 and 29-22 in 2010, however those Tests were played at FNB Stadium. This fixture is being played at Ellis Park, also in Johannesburg. This will be the All Blacks’ first visit to this venue since 2004, however their players will be familiar with the stadium as it is the home of the Lions in Super Rugby.
Hooker Bismarck du Plessis starts ahead of Adriaan Strauss after being rotated to the bench last week. Juandre Kruger comes in for the suspended lock Flip van der Merwe with Franco van der Merwe added to the bench. A third possible change may see Jan Serfontein start at centre if JJ Engelbrecht doesn’t recover from injury in time.
15. Zane Kirchner, 14. Willie le Roux, 13. JJ Engelbrecht (or Jan Serfontein), 12. Jean de Villiers (captain), 11. Bryan Habana, 10. Morne Steyn, 9. Fourie du Preez, 8. Duane Vermeulen, 7. Willem Alberts, 6. Francois Louw, 5. Juandre Kruger, 4. Eben Etzebeth, 3. Jannie du Plessis, 2. Bismarck du Plessis, 1. Tendai Mtawarira
Reserves: 16. Adriaan Strauss, 17. Gurthro Steenkamp, 18. Coenie Oosthuizen, 19. Franco van der Merwe, 20. Siya Kolisi, 21. Ruan Pienaar, 22. Pat Lambie, 23. Jan Serfontein (or Juan de Jongh)
Captain Richie McCaw has recovered from injury and will start ahead of Sam Cane. In one other change to the starting line-up, Charlie Faumuina comes in for the injured Owen Franks, with Ben Franks added to the bench. Dane Coles has been named as the reserve hooker in place of Keven Mealamu.
15. Israel Dagg, 14. Ben Smith, 13. Conrad Smith, 12. Ma’a Nonu, 11. Julian Savea, 10. Aaron Cruden, 9. Aaron Smith, 8. Kieran Read, 7. Richie McCaw (catpain), 6. Liam Messam, 5. Sam Whitelock, 4. Brodie Retallick, 3. Charlie Faumuina, 2. Andrew Hore, 1. Tony Woodcock
Reserves: 16. Dane Coles, 17. Wyatt Crockett, 18. Ben Franks, 19. Steven Luatua, 20. Sam Cane, 21. Tawera Kerr-Barlow, 22. Beauden Barrett, 23. Charles Piutau
It’s fitting that South Africa and New Zealand face each other in the final round, as this fixture will determine the Rugby Championship winner. The All Blacks hold a 5-point lead over the Springboks, however the Springboks have a superior points difference. If the Springboks can score four tries and win more by than seven points they will win the competition, otherwise the All Blacks will be back-to-back champions. If there’s a venue at which the Springboks can achieve this goal, it’s Ellis Park. The last two times the sides met at this venue, the Springboks scored 40 and 46 points, respectively, to win 40–26 (2004) and 46–40 (2000).
The Springboks come into this Test on the back of a comfortable 28-8 win over the Wallabies. In a spiteful clash the damage was done in the space of ten minutes as the Springboks shot out to a 20-3 lead by the 19th minute. Disappointingly for South Africa they weren’t able to pick up two more tries for a bonus point. They won’t be happy with their drop in intensity that resulted in a 5-5 scoreline for the last 61 minutes, although they should be proud of their strong defensive effort once the Wallabies were able to find some rhythm on attack.
The All Blacks’ strong momentum in the Rugby Championship continued with a 33-15 win over Argentina in La Plata last week. Los Pumas were highly competitive in the first half, trailing by just two points at the break, however the All Blacks showed their class in the second spell as they ran in three more tries to secure a crucial bonus point.
The Springboks know they need to take risks and are prepared to gamble with an expansive attacking game this weekend. The All Blacks are expecting more ball movement from the Springboks, and have stated the need to match their physicality and be accurate on attack and defence. The Springboks themselves will have match expansive ambition with accuracy, as the All Blacks are the world’s best at capitalising on mistakes.
One of the keys to the All Blacks’ success is their defence. In the last four Tests they have conceded 16, 13, 15 and 15 points and just three tries in total. If they have an area for improvement, it’s protection of the ball at the breakdown. The Springboks won eight turnovers at the breakdown at Eden Park a few weeks ago.
The Springboks will be pumped up for this one. They felt harshly done by the referee in Eden Park and they feel they have room for improvement despite thrashing the Wallabies last week. While the All Blacks have won seven of the last eight against the Springboks, including a 32-16 win in Johannesburg last year, you have to go back to 2008 for the last time they won consecutive Tests on South African soil. In the last ten years the All Blacks have only won consecutive games in South Africa on one occasion.
The Springboks will still be sore from the All Blacks’ come from behind victory at FNB Stadium last year. I expect them to throw the kitchen sink at the All Blacks and get over the line in a physical contest. I would back the Springboks in the head-to-head at 2.00 (Pinnacle Sports).
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