The 4th round of the 2018 Rugby Championship will see the mighty All Blacks host the Springboks on Saturday in Wellington, with New Zealand knowing that a bonus point win would secure them a third straight RC trophy.
New Zealand is on the back of a 22 point home win against Argentina last week, their third 20+ point victory in this tournament after the All Blacks previously routed Australia by 25 and 28. It wasn`t the best game from New Zealand last week and the 22 point margin is actually a bit misleading, as Argentina was very competitive from start to finish. However, New Zealand made a lot of changes in the lineup for that match, resting some key guys (most notably Beauden Barrett) with this match against South Africa in mind.
The Springboks opened the Championship with a solid 13 point home win against Argentina, a game in which they should have won by around 20. With a new manager and after a solid Summer test series against England, there was optimism around the South African camp after that first game. However, things quickly went downhill. The Springboks put on a shocking performance in the following game, losing 19-32 in Argentina, and lost again last week by 5 points in Australia – despite Australia missing arguably its two best players (Pocock, Folau). Right now the Boks seem to be back at the disappointing level they showed in the previous years under Allister Coetzee.Bet on New Zealand v South Africa and get your 100% (100 Eur) bonus at Ohmbet!
Team news & lineups:
New Zealand will call back all their big guns for this match and they also get Rieko Ioane back from injury, which should be a massive boost. Their only problem is the injury suffered by Brodie Retallick last week. He is one of the few indispensable players for the All Blacks, but aside from his absence the lineup looks scary good.
South Africa will make 4 changes to the lineup which lost last week in Australia. The only new absentee for the Boks is Makazole Mapimpi.
New Zealand: 15 Jordie Barrett, 14 Ben Smith, 13 Anton Lienert-Brown, 12 Ryan Crotty, 11 Rieko Ioane, 10 Beauden Barrett, 9 Aaron Smith, 8 Kieran Read (c), 7 Sam Cane, 6 Liam Squire, 5 Scott Barrett, 4 Samuel Whitelock, 3 Owen Franks, 2 Codie Taylor, 1 Karl Tu’inukuafe
South Africa: 15 Willie le Roux, 14 Jesse Kriel, 13 Lukhanyo Am, 12 Damian de Allende, 11 Aphiwe Dyantyi, 10 Handré Pollard, 9 Faf de Klerk, 8 Warren Whiteley, 7 Pieter-Steph du Toit, 6 Siya Kolisi (c), 5 Franco Mostert, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Frans Malherbe, 2 Malcolm Marx, 1 Steven Kitshoff
In the previous two Rugby Championships New Zealand won its home matches against South Africa by 28 and 57 (!!) points, utterly dominating the Springboks. There is no real reason to expect a much closer game here.
The All Blacks are fresh after shuffling the lineup last week and they will definitely be up for their last home game in this Rugby Championship. It was clear that they view this as one of the most important games of the season when they rested so many key guys against Argentina last week.
Not to mention that a bonus point win would see them lift the Rugby Championship trophy, so they will be that much more motivated to win this one and win it big.
As such, full focus and intensity is expected from the All Blacks. They should be at their best and when that is the case they are likely to steamroll any team in the world, and it would take a very courageous man to bet against them – especially with NZ set to field such a strong lineup.
Retallick`s injury will be a blow as the partnership between him and Whitelock can`t quite be replicated. This could give the Boks a chance to be competitive in the scrum (maybe even get on top in that department), but the strong lineup selected by the All Blacks should make up for his absence.
South Africa just isn`t looking good right now and although they will surely give their best effort, it`s hard to see them making this a competitive clash after being blown out by Argentina and beaten by an Australian side which played without Pocock and Folau – an Australian side which (with Folau and Pocock) was destroyed by 25 and 28 points by New Zealand earlier in the competition.
South Africa`s offense has been blunt all competition and they aren`t looking likely to score many points here in Wellington, especially after they only scored 13 total points in their last two games in New Zealand. And if South Africa doesn`t put points on the table it will get ugly, because we know New Zealand will score in bunches.
In terms of the point spread, the Springboks could also be hurt by the horrendous kicking of Pollard. He was an absolute disaster from the tee in this Rugby Championship and unless he has a bounce back game, South Africa will lose precious points because of his inaccuracy. Not to mention territory, something which you definitely can not afford against New Zealand.
Yet again I will back the All Blacks to cover the spread, after doing so in the first three matches as well (twice successfully). My tip will be New Zealand to win with a 23,5 handicap. At the moment the line appears to be moving up. Prediction: New Zealand – South Africa 44 – 12.