Round 4 of the Rugby Championship gets underway with a top of the table clash between New Zealand and South Africa in Albany on Saturday.
New Zealand v South Africa, Saturday 16th September, Albany, KO 09:35 (South African time)
Weather Forecast: - Albany
Referee: Nigel Owens (Wales)
Assistant referees: Angus Gardner (Australia), Matthew Carley (England)
Television match official: George Ayoub (Australia)
We are at the halfway stage of the tournament and New Zealand come into the game with a 3 point lead over South Africa at the top of the standings. The All Blacks have won all 3 of their matches so far, most recently seeing off Argentina 39-22 at New Plymouth where they only put the game to bed in the final quarter after trailing 16-15 at half time. They scored 6 tries to 1 to secure a bonus point against Los Pumas but failed to deliver for those punters who took minus handicaps nudging the 30 point mark. The bookmakers still have them as 1/33 favourites to retain the Rugby Championship title with the Boks second favourites at around 8/1.
New Zealand had started their defence of this trophy with back to back wins over the Wallabies, covering the handicap in a 54-34 in Sydney but coming up way short in Dunedin (35-29) where Australia threatened to spring a mighty surprise.
The Boks are next up and the AB’s have won 9 of the last 10 head to heads at any venue. The last time they met New Zealand ran in 9 unanswered tries in dishing out a 51-15 hiding in Durban to go alongside a 41-13 victory in Christchurch.
Future Fixtures: Oct 1st Argentina (Buenos Aires), Oct 7th South Africa (Cape Town)
The Boks maintained their unbeaten record in 2017 with a 23-23 draw against the Wallabies in Perth last weekend. Both sides scored 2 tries a piecein a game Australia started as marginal favourites. Earlier in the tournament the Boks covered minus handicaps in back to back wins over Argentina, in Port Elizabeth (37-15) and then Salta (41-23). The win in Salta, which came with a bonus point, was the first overseas victory for South Africa since 2015.
South Africa’s only recent success against New Zealand came in Johannesburg in 2014 and they haven’t beaten the All Blacks in New Zealand since 2009. Although South Africa finished well beaten in the 2 Rugby Championship meetings of 2016 the scoreboard was a lot closer in the RWC 2015 semi final (20-18) at Twickenham and the Rugby Championship clash in Johannesburg (27-20) in the same year.
Coenie Oosthuizen broke an arm in Perth last week and uncapped Wilco Louw has been called up as his replacement.Jaco Kriel is alos out injured.
Future Fixtures: Sep 30th Australia (Bloemfontein), Oct 7th New Zealand (Cape Town)
New Zealand: 15 Damian McKenzie, 14 Nehe Milner-Skudder, 13 Ryan Crotty, 12 Sonny Bill Williams, 11 Rieko Ioane, 10 Beauden Barrett, 9 Aaron Smith, 8 Kieran Read (captain), 7 Sam Cane, 6 Liam Square, 5 Sam Whitelock, 4 Brodie Retallick, 3 Nepo Laulala, 2 Dane Coles, 1 Kane Hames
Substitutes: 16 Codie Taylor, 17 Wyatt Crockett, 18 Ofa Tu'ungafasi, 19 Scott Barrett, 20 Ardie Savea, 21 TJ Perenara, 22 Lima Sopoaga, 23 Anton Lienert-Brown
South Africa: 15 Andries Coetzee, 14 Raymond Rhule, 13 Jesse Kriel, 12 Jan Serfontein, 11 Courtnall Skosan, 10 Elton Jantjies, 9 Francois Hougaard Ross Cronje , 8 Uzair Cassiem, 7 Jean-Luc du Preez, 6 Siya Kolisi, 5 Franco Mostert, 4 Eben Etzebeth (captain), 3 Ruan Dreyer, 2 Malcolm Marx, 1 Tendai Mtawarira
Substitutes: 16 Bongi Mbonambi, 17 Steven Kitshoff, 18 Trevor Nyakane, 19 Lood de Jager, 20 Pieter-Steph du Toit, Rudy Paige, 22 Handre Pollard, 23 Damian de Allende
Recent Head to Heads, (any venue)
2016 Durban South Africa 15–57 New Zealand (Tries 0-9 )
2016 Christchurch New Zealand 41-13 South Africa (Tries 6-1 )
2015 Twickenham New Zealand 20-18 South Africa (Tries 2-0 ) (RWC semi final)
2015 Johannesburg South Africa 20–27 New Zealand (Tries 2-3 )
2014 Johannesburg South Africa 27–25 New Zealand (Tries 3-2 )
2014 Wellington New Zealand 14-10 South Africa (Tries 1-1 )
2013 Johannesburg South Africa 27–38 New Zealand (Tries 4-5 )
2013 Auckland New Zealand 29-15 South Africa (Tries 4-2 )
New Zealand -16.5 points 9/10 Sunbet
South Africa +18.5 points 9/10 Hollywood
Note, odds quoted are correct at the time of last update but are subject to change.
The All Blacks made hard work of their 2 earlier home games, especially in the first half but whilst I toyed with the idea of the half time cap I’m looking to the Boks to stay within the line chalked up for the full distance. Although 2 enforced changes don’t help the visitors they look at least as strong as the Wallabies, who lost narrowly to NZ in Dunedin, and have already proved themselves a better side than Los Pumas who put up a game battle in New Plymouth last week.
Taking on the All Blacks financially is not something I would want to make a habit of and the stake on the cap is conservative with additional leeway afforded with a pick of the home win by 11-20 points inclusive.
Bet: 2.5 units South Africa +18.5 points 9/10 Hollywood
1.5 units New Zealand win by 11-20 points at 5/2 BetXchange
Remember you can have your own say on all this week’s matches on our discussion forum