Written by @QuintenLetcher for @Hollywoodbets. Follow them both on Twitter and Facebook now!
New Zealand vs Argentina | Saturday 07 September | Waikato Stadium | 09:35
The All Black camp will be all smiles as we head into the third round of this year’s Rugby Championship, having brushed aside the Wallabies in Wellington two weeks back to ensure the Bledisloe Cup remains where it has been since 2003, in Kiwi hands. Despite the heroic, yet ultimately futile, first half display by the Aussies that saw them dominating both possession and territory for the first thirty minutes, the All Blacks managed a comfortable 27-16 victory, thanks in no small part to Ben Smith, who really killed the party for the Wallabies by dotting down twice in the last thirteen minutes of the first half.
To Win (80mins)
New Zealand 1/100
New Zealand (-29.5) 9/10
Argentina (+29.5) 9/10
The All Blacks have the invaluable Dan Carter back at their disposal this week, as well as back up pivot Beauden Barrett. A fresh-faced Francis Saili gets the honour of pulling on an All Black jersey for the first time, making him the 17th new addition to the national set up under Steve Hansen. Blues prop Charlie Faumuina comes into the starting lineup for the injured Owen Franks, with Ben Franks taking up Faumuina’s spot on the bench. Ben Smith is having an amazing season on the wing for the All Blacks, having run in five tries in the competition thus far, and he will be undoubtedly be looking to add a few more to his tally this week. Steven Luatua had a cracker of a game last week and should make life difficult, not only for the visitors, but also for Liam Messam when he returns from injury.
Argentina, on the other hand, head into Hamilton in a slightly more sombre mood. Kicking off this year’s competition with a soul destroying loss in Soweto courtesy of the Springboks, one would think their remarkably rejuvenated showing in Mendoza, where they managed to reduce their losing margin by sixty points to a much more respectful five would be reason enough to celebrate. But if you watched the game you would know just how devastating that narrow loss must have been for the Pumas. Throwing everything they had at the Springboks from the kick off, the home side were a menacing unit throughout the first half, and were comfortably in the driving seat thanks to tries from flanker Juan Manuel Leguizamon and centre Marcelo Bosch, which left the Springboks trailing 17-13 at the end of the first forty minutes. Unfortunately for the Pumas, they just couldn’t seem to get things going in the second half, and ill discipline cost them heavily as the Springboks added nine unanswered points after the break.
Pumas coach Santiago Phelan has named four changes to his side for the Hamilton clash. Leonardo Senatore has been slapped with a nine-week ban for biting, and while this is a big blow for the visitors, the return of captain Juan Martin Fernandez Lobbe makes it much more palatable. Manuel Carizza comes into the second row at the expense of Mariano Galarza, who drops back down to the bench. Last week’s captain Felipe Contepomi also drops to the bench to make way for Santiago Fernandez. Juan Martin Hernandez returns from injury to start at fullback.
VERDICT: New Zealand (-29.5) 9/10
The All Blacks won’t let the Springboks outdo them when it comes to dishing out pain to the weaker sides. They will be going out with the intention of bettering the sixty pointer the Springboks pulled off in the first round. Whether they pull it off or not is another question, but I think the thirty points needed for the handicap is definitely doable.
Think we've got it wrong? Well leave your comments below and tell us how you think this is going to play out.
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