Rugby Championship 2017 – Week 6 Preview

Best Bet 1: New Zealand -14.5 (vs South Africa) x 2-units @ $1.91 – Sportsbet (early twitter play)

Best Bet 2: Australia -6.5 (vs Argentina) @ $1.89 – Bet365

SOUTH AFRICA ($6.50) VS NEW ZEALAND ($1.14)

The final round of The Rugby Championship kicks off at the picturesque Newlands Stadium in Cape Town, where South Africa looks to restore some pride against New Zealand. The Springboks stuttered their way to a 27-27 draw against the Wallabies in Bloemfontein last weekend, whereas, the All Blacks clinched their fifth Rugby Championship title in just six years with a 36-10 victory over the Pumas in Buenos Aires. Just three weeks ago, the All Blacks handed the Springboks their heaviest defeat (57-0) in Test match rugby in Albany and have now won five in a row and 10 of the last 11 against their old foes.
 
South Africa (2017): WWWWWDLD
New Zealand (2017): WLDWWWWW

South Africa: Steven Kitshoff, Malcolm Marx, Ruan Dreyer, Eben Etzebeth (captain), Lood de Jager, Siya Kolisi, Pieter-Steph du Toit, Francois Louw, Ross Cronje, Elton Jantjies, Courtnall Skosan, Jan Serfontein, Jesse Kriel, Dillyn Leyds, Andries Coetzee

Replacements: Chiliboy Ralepelle, Trevor Nyakane, Wilco Louw, Franco Mostert, Jean-Luc du Preez, Rudy Paige, Handre Pollard, Damien de Allende

New Zealand: Kane Hames, Dane Coles, Nepo Laulala, Sam Whitelock, Scott Barrett, Liam Squire, Sam Cane, Kieran Read (captain), Aaron Smith, Beauden Barrett, Rieko Ioane, Sonny Bill Williams, Ryan Crotty, Nehe Milner-Skudder, Damien McKenzie

Replacements: Codie Taylor, Wyatt Crockett, Ofa Tunga’afasi, Patrick Tuipulotu, Matt Todd, Tawera Kerr-Barlow, Lima Sopoaga, David Havili

Prediction:

From the outset in Bloemfontein, the Springboks looked to run the Wallabies off their feet and did so with mixed results. At times they looked sharp with ball in hand, but were often guilty of pushing the final pass or simply playing too deep allowing the Wallabies to pick them off like sitting ducks. This tactic against the All Blacks simply won’t work as it will feed their strengths and dangerous runners. The Springboks pack which was so successful early on in the season has not been up to scratch in recent weeks, with their scrum faltering again (3/5). Despite making 23 clean breaks in attack, defensively the Springboks struggled with basic one-on-one tackles and their first phase defence is too fragile not to get exposed at this level. The Springboks have their backs well and truly against the wall and Alastair Coetzee has beefed up his forward pack to try and contain the All Blacks onslaught. A niggling injury sees the Beast, who has been in career-best form, replaced by the fiery Steven Kitshoff. Lood de Jager comes into the second row for Franco Mostert and Pieter-Steph do Toit will be wearing the number seven jersey. This shifts Francois Louw to number eight. This ploy by Coetzee is to sure up the lineout and give the Boks more physicality and hopefully an edge at scrum time.

The All Blacks continue to motor through The Rugby Championship and this time, they find themselves in one of the rugby world’s favourite destinations. They are re-joined by a number of stalwarts that were excluded from the Argentinian leg last weekend and will be pumped to finish the competition on a high. Despite a multitude of changes each week, New Zealand continue to overcome whatever is in front of them and solidify their ranking at the top of world rugby. Complacency has been an issue for them from time to time, but with the end of the year tour in sight, they will be looking to finish their southern hemisphere season with a bang. Their set piece continues to dominate, their tackle success percentage is sitting around 90% and their breakdown work is second to none. They have shown over the course of this tournament that you don’t need to dominate possession or territory to win matches, as long as you take the chances when they are presented to you. They continue to do that and that’s what makes them so good to watch. It comes as no surprise that Steve Hansen has made seven changes to his squad bringing in Sam Whitelock, Sam Cane, Ryan Crotty and Nehe Milner-Skudder for Luke Romano, Matt Todd, Anton Lienert-Brown and Waisake Naholo to the starting team. Tawera Kerr-Barlow will get some time off the bench this week, alongside David Havili who had a good impact on procedings, scoring in his debut last weekend against Argentina.

For the Springboks to have any chance in this match, they’ll need to tighten up their set piece, kick the ball into the stands, regenerate their rolling maul and contest heavily at the breakdown. These are all things that they can do, but their accuracy over long periods of time just isn’t there at present and their backs simply can’t contain their All Black counterparts. The All Blacks will have set a goal prior to the tournament starting to win this year’s championship undefeated, as they did in 2016. They have a good following in Cape Town and unless a hurting Springboks outfit plays out of their skins and puts together their match of the past two years, I can see the All Blacks cruising to another comfortable, ego-boosting victory. Once again, I can see this getting ugly for the Springboks throwing South African rugby into another state of disrepair.

Predicted result: New Zealand to win @ $1.14

Best Bet 1: New Zealand -14.5 (vs South Africa) x 2-units @ $1.91 – Sportsbet (early twitter play)

ARGENTINA ($3.00) VS AUSTRALIA ($1.40)

Argentina will be searching for their first win in the Rugby Championship this season when they host Australia at the Estadio Malvinas Argentinas in Mendoza. The Pumas will be hurting after another home loss this season, going down to the All Blacks 10-36 last weekend in Buenos Aires. Australian will also be gutted after they came so close to securing a rare win on the Highveld, held to a 27-27 draw against the Springboks in Bloemfontein. Three weeks ago, the Wallabies put together one of their best halves in recent memory to completely outplay the Pumas in Canberra, but Argentina looked like the better team in the first half. That victory extended their winning streak against the South Americans to five matches.

Argentina(2017): LLWLLLLLL
Australia (2017): WLWLLDWD

Argentina: Lucas Noguera Paz, Agustin Creevy (captain), Nahuel Tetaz Chaparro, Marcos Kremer, Matias Alemanno, Pablo Matera, Javier Ortega Desio, Tomas Lezana, Martin Landajo, Nicolas Sanchez, Emiliano Boffelli, Jeronimo de la Fuente, Matias Orlando, Matias Moroni, Joaquin Tuculet

Replacements: Julian Montoya, Santiago Garcia Botta, Enrique Pieretto, Benjamin Macome, Leonardo Senatore, Gonzalo Bertranou, Santiago Gonzalez Iglesias, Santiago Cordero

Australia: Scott Sio, Tatafu Polota-Nau, Sekope Kepu, Izack Rodda, Adam Coleman, Jack Dempsey, Michael Hooper, Sean McMahon, Will Genia, Bernard Foley, Reece Hodge, Kurtley Beale, Tevita Kuridrani, Marika Koroibete, Israel Folau

Replacements: Stephen Moore, Tetera Faulkner, Allan Alaalatoa, Rob Simmons, Lukhan Tui, Nick Phipps, Samu Kerevi, Henry Speight

Prediction:

The Pumas have been downright ordinary in 2017 and look likely to finish this year’s tournament without a single competition point. They were completely blown off the park in Buenos Aires against the All Blacks, as they found themselves down 3-27 in just 25 minutes. They did show some fight after that point, but if it weren’t for two New Zealand yellow-cards, they were staring down the barrel of another embarrassing home defeat. The Pumas were also guilty of conceding two yellow cards and coupled with their 13 penalties, there was only ever going to be one result. Their disciplinary issues makes them the masters of their own demise – it simply isn’t good enough. It hurts to see someone like Juan Imhoff carving up the French Top 14 as well, not eligible for the Pumas under their current rules. Coach Daniel Hourcade has made four changes to his team this week, one of those injury-enforced. Martin Landajo comes back into the starting halfback spot replacing the injured Tomas Cubelli. He will be hoping for better service this week with the three changes in the pack seeing under-20’s lock Marcos Kremer and Matias Alemanno replacing Tomas Lavanini and Guido Petti in the second row. Juan Manuel Leguizamon has also been dropped and is replaced by Tomas Lezana at number eight.

Statistically speaking, the Wallabies were beaten across all attacking measurements in Bloemfontein (possession, territory, carries, metres made, defenders beaten, clean breaks, passes). It is impressive that they escaped with a draw, but their discipline, error rate, lack of composure and killer instinct ultimately cost them in the end. This is something that will improve over time with skills coach Mick Byrne on-board and placing more of an emphasis on fitness. Additionally, there are a few refereeing decisions that didn’t favour the Wallabies, but we won’t go there and Michael Cheika probably shouldn’t have either. Barring a non-existent Jack Dempsey, the pack was solid and did enough to create space for their dangerous backs. Bernard Foley had another wonderful game (or ‘wonnerful’ as Tim Horan says) for the Wallabies with three try-assists and accurate goal kick yet again. Marika Koroibete had a storming starting debut and should’ve been man-of-the-match in my opinion with two tries. Israel Folau also crossed the chalk yet again and now holds the single season record for most tries by a Wallaby with 11. All Black great Joe Rokocoko has the Test world record at 17 tries and I wouldn’t put it past Folau to get there with his ability to beat a defender one on one and his great support play. I am finding that the Wallabies bench isn’t up to scratch at the moment with players like Stephen Moore, Tom Robertson, Rob Simmons, and Nick Phipps continually failing to make an impact with the ‘finishers’ tag that is bestowed upon them. Michael Cheika has made no changes to the starting team this week, but rather employs a 5-3 bench, as opposed to the 6-2 combination he selected to face the Springboks.

This is a match that Argentina would’ve circled on their fixtures list prior to the commencement of this tournament. They come up against a tired Wallabies outfit that has been on an emotional roller coaster this year, mixing scintillating rugby at times with downright basic elementary errors at others. The Wallabies need a victory in Argentina to salvage something from this tournament, having only beaten the Argentinians in Canberra. No doubt will the crowd in Mendoza present the Wallabies with a hostile environment and the Pumas will give the Wallabies a stern challenge, but when it is all said and done, the visitors are the better team and they should be able to win this one by double digits.

Predicted result: Australian to win @ $1.40 – Sportsbet

Best Bet 2: Australia -6.5 (vs Argentina) @ $1.89 – Bet365

Author

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Glenn

Glenn has followed rugby union for 19 years and has expert knowledge on the game freely committing to over 500 viewing hours a year. Having played with and against some current Super Rugby players and International superstars, he understands the game, the players and the laws inside out. Having been born in South Africa, spent time in New Zealand and currently living in Australia, Glenn lives and breathes rugby. With so many different tournaments happening around the world simultaneously and the addition of Rugby Sevens to the Olympic program, there are always plenty of healthy betting options available. An obsession, a passion, call it what you will, Glenn enjoys sharing his insight, opinions and predictions with anyone who wants to listen.

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