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Rugby Championship: South Africa v New Zealand Preview
The Springboks will look to close out their 2016 Rugby Championship campaign on a high note when they take on the all-conquering All Blacks this Saturday.
Allister Coetzee’s Rugby Championship trial by fire comes to an end this weekend with possibly the toughest test of his fledgling tenure at the Springbok helm. It is never easy taking on the All Blacks, even at home, but it’s going to be even harder, this time around, with the South African rugby public on Coetzee’s back.
So can the Coetzee and his men pull a rabbit out the hat and quell the vociferous naysayers or will the ‘Boks suffer their fifth defeat of the calendar year?
South Africa v New Zealand | Saturday 8 October | Growth Point Kings Park | 17:05
To Win (80 Mins)
South Africa 36/10 | Draw 24/1 | New Zealand 1/5
South Africa (+12.5) 8/10 | New Zealand (-12.5) 9/10
You know a coach is under pressure when he brings back a 32-year-old flyhalf whose best days are behind him. Don’t get me wrong, Morne had an absolute blinder last week. His goal kicking was assured – Elton you’ve got to up your game son – and the two drops he pinged over were both extremely well timed. The only problem is, that sort of kicking display may get you a win over the out of sorts Australians but you’re going to need more than a few drop goals and penalties to see you past the All Blacks.
Anyway, Morne is going to fill that flyhalf role again this week with Elton Jantjies seemingly having fallen out of Coetzee’s short term plans. The “Darling of Loftus” will have a new half-back partner this week, however, as Rudy Paige has been ruled out with concussion. Paige’s place in the squad has been taken by another Bulls man in the form of Piet van Zyl. Van Zyl may actually come straight into the starting 15 with Coetzee seemingly reluctant to field Faf de Klerk due to the Lions man’s struggles with clearing from the base.
There are also injury clouds hanging over Jesse Kriel and Bryan Habana. If neither is able to take the field then we’re likely to see Lionel Mapoe or Damian de Allende come in for Kriel and Willie le Roux come in for Habana.
Another weekend, another bonus point victory for New Zealand. I can’t actually believe how nonchalant I was about writing that. The magnitude of the All Blacks winning every single one of their Rugby Championship fixtures with a bonus point has hardly registered – that’s just how good they’ve been. The crazy thing is, the retirements of McCaw and co, at the end of last year, robbed the New Zealanders of 800 caps worth of experience.
Most coaches would immediately play the old “rebuilding” card. Steve Hansen has not once mentioned this term. Instead, the All Black mentor has brought through a whole host of players. The most recent of which is Anton Lienert-Brown. The Chiefs man has been nothing short of spectacular since being called up by Hansen earlier in the Championship. His partnership with Crusaders centre Ryan Crotty has blossomed beautifully. The duo are likely to give the Springboks flailing midfield all sorts of problems this coming Saturday.
Verdict: New Zealand (-12.5) 9/10
While there could be a bit of rain floating around Durban this weekend, I can’t see it stifling New Zealand’s attacking game plan that much. Get on the All Blacks minus at 9/10.