New Zealand laid down a marker in their opening Rugby Championship victory over Australia last weekend and the defending champions will seek more of the same on Saturday.
Steve Hansen’s men turned on the style to defeat the Wallabies 38-13 in Sydney and the under-fire Michael Cheika will hope his side can gain a measure of revenge at Eden Park in round two.
History is against them, however, with the All Blacks boasting a remarkable record in Auckland, while Australia are set to be without key man Israel Folau.
In Durban last weekend, South Africa began their campaign with 34-21 success over Argentina, who were led by head coach Mario Ledesma for the first time.
The Pumas must overcome a poor recent home run if they are to turn the tables in Mendoza, and past meetings suggest it could be a close-fought affair.
With the help of Opta, we take a statistical look at the second round of fixtures.
— All Blacks (@AllBlacks) August 23, 2018
New Zealand v Australia
Last Saturday’s victory was New Zealand’s fifth in succession over Australia in the Rugby Championship, and the world champions have won 10 of their last 12 games against their neighbours in the competition (D1, L1).
Furthermore, the All Blacks have won their last 17 games against Australia at Eden Park, including their last four by an average margin of 27 points.
That run forms part of an even more impressive record for the All Blacks, who are undefeated in their last 41 Tests at the venue (W39, D2), dating back to a loss to France in July 1994.
Hansen’s men are chasing a 14th straight win in the Rugby Championship; their all-time tally of 81 is nearly twice as many as any other nation (Australia 44, South Africa 43).
Worryingly for Australia, they have lost each of their last two games without Folau in the squad. Only New Zealand’s Rieko Ioane (15) – who is also absent for this match – has scored more Test tries since the beginning of 2017 than Folau, whose 12 are twice as many as any other Australian.
There will be a milestone for Owen Franks, who will play his 100th Test for New Zealand, and it would be extra special if the prop can mark the occasion with a try; Franks has played more games than any other man without crossing the whitewash.
— Qantas Wallabies (@qantaswallabies) August 23, 2018
Argentina v South Africa
The Springboks’ victory last week was their 24th from 27 games against the Pumas (D1, L2), including the last three in succession.
Although South Africa prevailed by 13 points in Durban, four of the last six meetings between these two sides have been decided by a margin of five points or fewer.
Argentina must grapple with a poor home record, having lost their last six matches, conceding 30 points or more on all but one of those occasions.
The Springboks will have to retain their discipline, however; Argentina have finished six of their last seven home games in the Rugby Championship with a 100 per cent goal-kicking accuracy, missing just three of 30 attempts in that time.
Key to that record has been Nicolas Sanchez, who is just 28 shy of eclipsing Felipe Contepomi (651) as the most prolific Argentinian point-scorer in Test history.
KEO.co.za News wire is powered by opta