South Africa vs New Zealand
Saturday 7 October
Kickoff 17:05 (GMT + 2)
As Elton Jantjies skewed his last-gasp penalty agonisingly wide against Australia on Saturday, both sides knew that New Zealand would be claiming yet another Rugby Championship title. Along with that, they continue to set the standard as the hemisphere’s best side by a country mile.
The Springboks are smarting over a second consecutive draw against the Wallabies that really should have been a win. After the first of these draws, a record-breaking 57-0 defeat to New Zealand followed. Allister Coetzee’s team will be wary of a Groundhog Day situation because as we all know, history repeating itself is the main theme in the classic Bill Murray film. Watching to the end (spoiler alert), however, reveals that patterns can be broken.
So now, with the Newlands test beckoning, it’s hard to know what to expect from an All Blacks outfit who have won the Rugby Championship with two matches to spare. Will they be in holiday mode or will a relaxed New Zealand team be even more dangerous, playing with freedom and reckless abandon that is so conducive to their slick, coherent and devastating style?
News has filtered through and All Black coach Steve Hansen has resisted the temptation to rest key players by naming his strongest possible 23 with 5 changes to the starting lineup that defeated Argentina 36-10. He has the luxury of recalling a raft of experienced talent in the shape of Nehe Milner-Skudder, Sam Cane and namesake Sam Whitelock, to a formidable side that mauled the boks 57-0 in Auckland. Ryan Crotty reclaims his place in midfield.
Match facts & Head to Head records
- The 57-0 defeat in Auckland was South Africa’s worst reverse in their 111-year history.
- These rivals have met 48 times in South Africa with The Springboks winning 25 and New Zealand winning 22. One match has been drawn.
- All Black skipper Kieran Read has completed more lineout catches than any other player in The Rugby Championship (24).
- All Black flyhalf Beauden Barrett tops the individual scoring charts with 67 points.
- The All Blacks won 19-0 when these sides last met at Newlands.
It remains to be seen whether New Zealand will arrive with 100% intensity, but to expect anything other than that from the World Champions would be foolish and poor preparation. Coetzee’s men must be ready to seize the opportunity to restore pride in front of a crowd who has waited 9 years to see these foes battle again.
Sometimes the performance is more important than the result, and Saturday’s clash could be a prime example of just that. Let’s hope that the Newlands crowd get the entertainment that they’re expecting because an improvement on the 19-0 defeat to New Zealand in 2008 is the minimum requirement.