Rugby Championship 2017: New Zealand vs South Africa Preview

The All Blacks welcome the Springboks to the QBE Stadium on Saturday 16 September in what promises to be an absolute cracker of match.

The greatest rivalry in international rugby headlines this week’s Rugby Championship fixtures, as the All Blacks host the Springboks in Albany on Saturday. The New Zealanders' shaky performance against the Argentines last week led Bok coach Allister Coetzee to describe them as “vulnerable” ahead of this clash.

With New Zealand’s supremacy constantly being questioned of late, it will be interesting to see how they approach this weekend’s encounter with their age-old foes – chances are, it may not be too good for Springbok fans.

New Zealand v South Africa | Saturday 16 September 2017 | QBE Stadium, Albany | 09:35

To Win (80-Mins)
NZ 1/12 | Draw 33/1 | SA 11/2
NZ 9/10 (-18.5), SA 9/10 (+18.5)

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New Zealand
2017 has been far from a vintage year for Steve Hansen’s all-conquering All Blacks. Apart from their disappointing British & Irish Lions series draw in June, the Kiwis performed in fits and starts in their opening two Rugby Championship Tests against Australia, and last week’s showing in New Plymouth left a lot to be desired.

The World Champions escaped a monster scare when they came back after trailing at half-time to eventually see-off Agustin Creevy’s men - their option-taking was poor, and they failed to finish off good attacking chances throughout much of the contest. The Springboks may just have the tactical game to apply pressure I the right areas if they perform similarly, something Hansen will be all too wary of.

All this said, New Zealand still sit at the summit of the standings. Hurricanes assistant coach John Plumtree stated midweek that the Boks do not have the defensive system required to stop the Kiwis attack, and it really is hard to argue with the Sharks legend.

Despite some shaky starts, New Zealand still boast the greatest attack on the planet and once again proved in last week’s Albany Test that they can strike at anytime, from anywhere on the pitch. The All Blacks always give an extra gear when playing South Africa, and this weekend won’t be any different. They are simply too good to lose at home twice in one year.

South Africa
Their 23-all draw in Perth may not have been the result Eben Etzebeth and co. would have so desperately wanted, but it shouldn’t detract from a pleasing overall performance. The Boks last won there in 2013, and they really could (and should) have triumphed last week had they remained more composed at crucial times.

Pivot Elton Jantjies’ display was less than convincing, and his inability to take a firm control of proceedings may have cost his side at the end. He will be under the microscope again this week, as the debate over his BMT rages on.

While South Africa have made massive strides in the right direction, they are still far from the finished article. Their physicality and set-piece is solid enough, but their lateral attack (I’m looking at you, Jesse Kriel) continues to raise concerns. The loss of Jaco Kriel is a major blow, but Jean-Luc du Preez is a more than capable replacement.

The likely return of lineout kingpin Franco Mostert should also see the Boks target that area of the New Zealand game, and you can bet your bottom dollar that Daman McKenzie will be tested from several Jantjies bombs a’ la Morne Steyn.

Verdict: South Africa (+18.5) 9/10
The All Blacks will eventually break down a decent, if not impenetrable Bok defence on Saturday to claim the win. They will target the wider channels, an area the South Africans have looked susceptible, especially considering Raymond Rhule’s ineptitude on defence. Back New Zealand at home.

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Written by Shaun Goosen for

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