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After this year’s biggest upset to date, the Springboks will look to go two-from-two against the All Blacks in the final round of the Rugby Championship. Join The Roar for live scores and blog, from 1:05am AEST.
Last weekend saw a scrappy win to South Africa over Australia – not unlike New Zealand’s win over Argentina – with 23-12 and 35-17 scorelines in those games respectively.
The Springboks didn’t hugely impress last weekend against Australia, but at least turned up after halftime, which was enough to win the game by a reasonable margin.
New Zealand didn’t have everything going their way against Los Pumas either, but withstood what the Argies threw at them for a scrappy victory, which also won them the Championship, for the third straight year.
The Boks are currently undefeated at home this RC, and could well maintain that record, but despite their stunning triumph at Wellington, will head into this match as heavy outsiders.
When the Springboks last played the All Blacks at home, it was coming off a 57-0 thrashing in New Zealand, however this time they come into it with some form against the ABs.
No-one tipped the Africans to get the goods in the land of the long white cloud, with myself and other punters tipping a home team victory by 20 or more, however things are slightly different over in SA.
The history is marginally in the New Zealanders’ favour, and while 2016 saw a blowout score, in 2015 and 2017 the hometown heroes survived for bonus point losses, not to mention a shock narrow victory in 2014.
This will be about the 10s, there’s no doubt about that. The home team have named Handre Pollard to start at flyhalf, with Elton Jantjies coming off the bench, as Beauden Barrett starts in the playmaker role ahead of Mo’unga, in an expected decision for NZ.
No doubt there will be pressure on Barrett to up his game, goalkicking-wise, after a dismal two-from-six in Wellington, and hypotheticals will be tossed around about whether, should the All Blacks be trailing by a small margin towards the game’s end, he would try a drop goal.
It’s rare that the All Blacks lose once, let alone twice in a row to any one opposition, so for the Boks to win would take another miracle.
That being said, it’s by no means impossible, particularly after Wellington, but for them to get over the line again, would mean a lot of key All Blacks would have to play deeply sub-standard.
The great thing that the Wellington upset did, was add a level of unpredictability to Rugby Championship games such as this one, something we haven’t seen before, or at least not in recent time.
All Blacks by 4.
Join The Roar for live scores and the blog from 1:05am AEST on Sunday morning.
Venue: Loftus Versfeld, Pretoria
Time: 1:05am AEST
TV: LIVE on Fox Sports
Referee: Angus Gardner
Odds: SA $4.50, NZ $1.21
Willie le Roux
Damian de Allende
Faf de Klerk
Pieter-Steph du Toit
Siya Kolisi (c)
Sonny Bill Williams
Kieran Read (c)