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The All Blacks can complete a prestigious Grand Slam if they defeat the Springboks tonight in the final test of The Rugby Championship. Join The Roar for live scores and commentary from 8:05pm (AEST).
Springboks coach Jacques Nienaber has been calm under the fire of weeks’ of questions about his team’s poor performances and criticism about their style of play but he will be stressing about the result from tonight’s game.
He explained recently that when he came on board as head coach, the two major targets were the series win over the British and Irish Lions (tick) and the 2023 World Cup. Whilst the Rugby Championship might not be a KPI in his contract, losing four games in a row against bitter rivals is not going to go down well.
Nienaber has vehemently defended his style of play and his selection of almost completely the same team for this final match strongly suggests that we’re in for more of the same. Most rugby fans won’t have heard the term DNA this much since their High School science lessons but Nienaber and his team firmly believe they are doing the right thing by sticking with a game plan driven by kicking.
The only change the South Africans have made to their starting lineup is in the front row where Ox Nche comes in at tighthead prop, replacing the injured Frans Malherbe.
For all the talk about the boring nature of the Boks’ approach, it’s worth noting that All Blacks coach Ian Foster has made some changes to his line up including getting rid of the two wingers who struggled under the highball last week. Both George Bridge and Will Jordan looked uncomfortable under the South African barrage and have made way for Sevu Reece and Reiko Ioane.
Anton Lienert-Brown retakes his centre spot and Brad Weber will start at scrum half with Beauden Barrett outside him at fly half. Richie Mo’unga is back in the match day squad and will likely get a run later in the game.
There is an enticing amount of niggle bubbling up between these two as the Springboks were accused of dirty tactics to try and slow last week’s test down to their preferred pace. Savea has said that he’ll have to put more pressure on the ref this week and it’ll be interesting to see how both of these powerhouses battle it out for dominance.
For all the frustrations at the Boks’ style of play, they lost to an inform All Blacks side by just one point right at the end of the game seven days ago. However they won’t get that close again. The All Blacks will want to finish off the Championship with a much more accurate performance and not repeat the 20+ handling errors.
New Zealand by 9.
Venue: Cbus Super Stadium, Gold Coast
Kick-off: 8:05pm (AEST)
Live stream: Stan Sport
Betting: South Africa $4.30, New Zealand $1.21 – odds via PlayUp
Referee: Matthew Carley
1. Joe Moody, 2. Codie Taylor, 3. Nepo Laulala, 4. Brodie Retallick, 5. Scott Barrett, 6. Akira Ioane, 7. Ardie Savea (c), 8. Luke Jacobson, 9. Brad Weber, 10. Beauden Barrett, 11. Rieko Ioane, 12. David Havili, 13. Anton Lienert-Brown, 14. Sevu Reece, 15. Jordie Barrett
16. Asafo Aumua, 17. George Bower, 18. Ofa Tuungafasi, 19. Patrick Tuipulotu, 20. Ethan Blackadder, 21. TJ Perenara, 22. Richie Mo’unga, 23. Damian McKenzie
1. Trevor Nyakane, 2. Bongi Mbonambi, 3. Ox Nche, 4. Eben Etzebeth, 5. Lood de Jager, 6. Siya Kolisi (c), 7. Kwagga Smith, 8. Duane Vermeulen, 9. Faf de Klerk, 10. Handre Pollard, 11. Makazole Mapimpi, 12. Damian de Allende, 13. Lukhanyo Am, 14. Sbu Nkosi, 15. Willie le Roux
16. Malcolm Marx, 17. Steven Kitshoff, 18. Vincent Koch, 19. Franco Mostert, 20. Jasper Wiese, 21. Herschel Jantjies, 22. Elton Jantjies, 23. Frans Steyn