The Rugby Championship – Round 4 PreviewAuthor: admin | Filed under: Match Previews, The Championship
Round Four of the Rugby Championship kicks off this weekend and we are gradually getting used to the new four team format even if we haven’t quite got used to the name. This weekends action sees the Springboks take on the World Champions on their home turf while Australia welcome some Argentinians to their backyard.
New Zealand vs South Africa
The Springboks haven’t got their tour off the the greatest of starts with a disappointing draw away to Argentina and then and even more disappointing loss last week. The Boks gave the 20,000 odd expats in Perth very little ammunition to throw at their neighbours with their 5th straight loss to the Wallabies.
But let’s not dwell on past losses when we have future ones to look forward to! Yup that’s right, the reigning world champions, undefeated thus far in the tournament and on home turf. All the patriotism in the world isn’t going to stop us from predicting a loss for South Africa this weekend, the bookies seem to agree putting the Boks at 13-2 for a win.
Tough times then for Heyneke in only his 7th game in charge, but also an opportunity to turn the tide of the wavering support of a country if he can pull something out of the bag. Meyer isn’t the only one under pressure with more and more calls for the axing of fly-half Morne Steyn. Patrick Lambie even added some fuel to the fire this week admitting he is getting a little sick of flying around the world to warm foreign benches. Not to mention the ever-promising prospect of young Johan Goosen. Meyer came to the support of Steyn earlier in the week stating his faith in the Bulls man had not faltered, I wish I could say the same for myself.
In team news, Flip van der Merwe comes on for the suspended Eben Etzebeth, and seems to be relishing the opportunity, while Jannie du Plessis has been named in the starting line-up pending a late fitness test. In the only other change Francois Louw comes in for Marcell Coetzee
New Zealand have named Sam Whitelock and Luke Romano as their starting locks with Brodie Retallick on the bench. While the big news from the New Zealand camp is that first choice scrum-half Aaron Smith has been benched for missing a curfew with super-sized scrummie Piri Weepu coming into the starting line-up. Apparently Steve Hansen won’t compromise on discipline but he still doesn’t want Smith further away than the bench. Elsewhere Liam Messam rotates back into the starting line-up at the expense of Victor Vito and Andrew Hore gives Kevin Mealamu a sit down.
In the past 10 years New Zealand have won 10 out of 12 home games against the Boks and there’s not a lot saying that this weekend won’t make that 11, sad as it is for South Africa. New Zealand to pile the pressure on the Boks and by proxy Meyer.
Australia vs Argentina
Australia meet Argentina for the first time since 2003! Some encouraging displaying by Los Pumas in the past few weeks combined with the element of surprise, in that only a single Wallaby on the field, in Nathan Sharpe, will have previously met an Argentinian on the field, may give the South Americans their best shot of a win this tournament, and we hope they take it.
The Australians will have been buoyed by their win last week but will no doubt be wary of an unpredictable Puma’s side. The win against the Boks cost the Wallabies dear as captain Will Genia was sidelined for 6 months with a badly injured knee. This loss as well as the unavailability of James Horwill and David Pocock have resulted the Nathan Sharpe being named 4th choice captain, probably because he understands the most Spanish.
Nick Phipps comes in for the injured Genia while Waratahs lock Kane Douglas makes his Test debut in place of the injured Sitaleki Timani. Pat McCabe returns from injury to inside centre, with Berrick Barnes dropping to fullback and Kurtley Beale to the bench.
For the Argentinians Martin Landajo comes in for Nicolas Vergallo, while the exciting Lucas Gonzalez Amorosino takes over from fullback Martin Rodriguez. If ever there was a time to take a punt on a few Argentinian players now might be the time but unfortunately I can’t predict a victory for the Championship newcomers. The Wallabies to unceremoniously resign the Pumas to yet another defeat.
Since we don’t have a poll going for the Championship we’ll dish out some fair obvious advice here. Away wins are unlikely this weekend so all you’re looking for is tries. Go with Dagg, Jane, Savea or even Shipperley or Ashley-Cooper.