The weekend is here, bringing with it the final round of this year’s Rugby Championship (RC). The Currie Cup kicks off this weekend, so be sure to check out the local upcoming players showcase their skills. Alright, I was really optimistic that this final round would turn out to be more exciting with a four-way title play-off. Instead we are no left with a “training-match” between the Springboks and Los Pumas and the championship-decider match between the All Blacks and the Wallabies. Now, for some this is still exciting, but from a South African perspective, there is not that much that excites me. That’s because the title is going to either the All Blacks or the Aussies… bleh. Then, Argentina decides to basically bring their B-team (smart on their side), effectively making it a training-match for both teams in preparation for the Rugby World Cup. Oh, and then they do it, next week. At the very least, there will be rugby! That’s what matters!
Australia vs New Zealand (Sydney – Saturday, 8 August, 10:05 local time)
The winner will claim the Rugby Championship and the Bledisloe Cup. So there is a lot to play for between the two teams. The All Blacks are clear favourites, even though they will be playing in Australia where the Wallabies are much more resilient. Given the current form of the Wallabies and their team selection, this is probably their best chance to upset the All Blacks and snatch the titles for themselves. But, this is the All Blacks, they will take it!
Watch out for:
David Pocock & Micheal Hooper (Aus) – Starting both these machines could just be the key to a possible victory for the Wallabies. Just one of these two is able to create havoc at the breakdown, so just how crazy will it get?
Brodie Retallick (NZ) – To keep those sneaky Aussie fetchers in line, you need to bash the living daylights out of them at the ruck, simple as that. Brodie is the man to do that! He has been impressing with his physicality in recent weeks.
Nehe Milner-Skudder (NZ) – Not the typical big, bulldozing type of winger we have been accustomed to see in the NZ setup. But boy can this guy step! Just watch him make some defenders look like flops when he steps them.
Prediction: New Zealand by 7
South Africa vs Argentina (Durban – Saturday, 8 August, 17:05 local time)
Alright, so this match does not have all that much going for it. But looking at the bigger picture in the build-up to the RWC, they can focus on their preparation for the tournament. Argentina is adding valuable game time against strong opposition to their “B” team. In the RWC you can’t afford to let the game slip due to mishaps by players coming off the bench. Something the Springboks experienced first-hand in their previous two games. The Springboks could have easily lifted the trophy this year. Instead, the Springboks only made a few changes. Consistency is good, but these two games against Argentina are great opportunities to fix the problem of the bench by giving the players valuable game time. Let’s see what happens!
Watch out for:
Jean de Villiers (SA) – He is back to lead the Springboks. Everyone will be keeping a close eye on him to see whether he is back in form, especially after the rookies showed just how good they can be.
Vincent Koch (SA) – Argentina always have a solid scrum, and this is a great opportunity to test him. I’m interested to see how he anchors the scrum.
Juan Manuel Leguizamon (Arg) – He will surely be a hand full at the breakdown. His experience on the field will also be valuable with all the changes that have been made.
Augustin Creevy (Arg) – Always impressive and physical. Leading from the front he is sure to get their pack moving forward.
Prediction: South Africa by at least 10
Image credits: Supersport