The Springboks can reclaim the Freedom Cup for the first time since 2009 with a second straight victory over the All Blacks in the second round of the Rugby Championship at Ellis Park on Saturday.
The Rugby Championship – Round Two
South Africa v New Zealand
Saturday 13 August
To Win Match
Sout Africa 9/20 | Draw 20/1 | New Zealand 18/10
South Africa (-5.5) 9/10 | New Zealand(+5.5) 9/10
The trophy, contested annually between South Africa and New Zealand since 2004, has only ever been won twice by the men in green and gold. The Kiwis have held it for 12 years, but that will change if the Boks win this weekend.
Jacques Nienaber’s men were emphatic in their 26-10 opening victory in Mbombela a week ago, and realistically should maintain that momentum here. The All Blacks struggled to live with the Boks’ physical and aerial assaults, and it will be interesting to see how they respond in Johannesburg – though it’s difficult to see them changing a whole lot within the space of just one week.
Key combinations in the New Zealand setup simply haven’t gelled this year, particularly the midfield, and they look a team out of sync and unable to impose any sort of game plan on their opposition. If certain sources in the media are to be believed, Ian Foster will lose his job regardless of the result on Saturday as the alarm bells just keep on a ringin’ in the Land of the Long White Cloud.
Bok team news
The Boks have made five changes to their starting lineup, but Duane Vermeulen’s return at the base of the scrum is particularly eye-catching. The Kiwis managed to repel the Bok maul well in Mbombela (Jason Ryan’s influence perhaps?), but the Ulster man’s expertise in this regard should lift the hosts here.
Jesse Kriel will also need a big game on the right wing to fill the void left by first Cheslin Kolbe, and most recently Kurt-Lee Arendse, while Joseph Dweba will be expected to do likewise at hooker in the absence of Bongi Mbonambi and a benched Malcolm Marx. The inclusions of Ox Nche at loosehead and Jaden Hendrikse at scrumhalf should be seamless enough.
Special mention must be made to Frans Malherbe on the occasion of his 50th Test match. The Stormers stalwart is one of the game’s pre-eminent tightheads and doesn’t often get the recognition he deserves from the general public. Back him to put in a typically classy shift while he’s on the pitch.
15 Damian Willemse, 14 Jesse Kriel, 13 Lukhanyo Am, 12 Damian de Allende, 11 Makazole Mapimpi, 10 Handre Pollard, 9 Jaden Hendrikse, 8 Duane Vermeulen, 7 Pieter-Steph du Toit, 6 Siya Kolisi (c), 5 Lood de Jager, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Frans Malherbe, 2 Bongi Mbonambi, 1 Ox Nche.
Replacements: 16 Malcolm Marx, 17 Steven Kitshoff, 18 Vincent Koch, 19 Franco Mostert, 20 Jasper Wiese, 21 Kwagga Smith, 22 Herschel Jantjies, 23 Willie le Roux.
Verdict: SA (-5.5) 9/10
Pretty easy one this. Back the Boks to again overpower these All Blacks, this time at real altitude, and condemn them to an unthinkable sixth defeat in seven Test matches.