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S Africa – New Zealand

South Africa New Zealand Rugby Championship preview

While New Zealand has already won the 2017 Rugby Championship, there is still much to play for in this last round clash, as it is always the case when these two rivals square off. South Africa will attempt to avenge the 57 point humiliation suffered in New Zealand a few weeks ago, and will also try to finish second in the tournament.

After nursing hopes of improvement for much of 2017, due to wins against a weakened France, Argentina, or a draw in Australia, the South Africans were brought back to earth three weeks ago with a horrific 0-57 loss in New Zealand. They followed that up with a draw at home against Australia last week, and it`s now obvious that the Boks are not much better than they were last year. A bit better, yes, but not significantly better. The coaching staff is the same, selection remains questionable and the Springboks are definitely not in a good moment.

New Zealand cruised so far in this tournament, much like last year, and did it despite making some experiments in the team in many of the games. There were a few questionmarks about their level as New Zealand was a bit shaky (for their mighty standards) in the first few rounds, but the latest performances proved that the All Blacks have not lost any steam, and are still by far the best team in world rugby. New Zealand defeated South Africa by 57 points (home) and Argentina by 26 points (away) in the last two outings.

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Team news & lineups:

South Africa suffered a big blow this week by losing arguably its best player, Mtawarira, along with Cassiem who will also miss the game. New Zealand has recalled 5 key players who were rested last week in Argentina and will field the best available lineup. Retallick and Moody are not ready to return after suffering injuries earlier in the tournament, and the All Blacks will miss them.

South Africa: 15 Andries Coetzee, 14 Dillyn Leyds, 13 Jesse Kriel, 12 Jan Serfontein, 11 Courtnall Skosan, 10 Elton Jantjies, 9 Ross Cronje, 8 Francois Louw, 7 Pieter-Steph du Toit, 6 Siya Kolisi, 5 Lood de Jager, 4 Eben Etzebeth (c), 3 Ruan Dreyer, 2 Malcolm Marx, 1 Steven Kitshoff

New Zealand: 15 Damian McKenzie, 14 Nehe Milner-Skudder, 13 Ryan Crotty, 12 Sonny Bill Williams, 11 Rieko Ioane, 10 Beauden Barrett, 9 Aaron Smith, 8 Kieran Read (c), 7 Sam Cane, 6 Liam Squire, 5 Scott Barrett, 4 Sam Whitelock, 3 Nepo Laulala, 2 Dane Coles, 1 Kane Hames

South Africa wasn`t that bad last time out against Australia and would have won if Jantjies had his kicking boots on. They did show a decent response after losing by 57 points in New Zealand, but even so they should have done much better and defeat the Wallabies at home without pinning their hopes on a last minute penalty. Failing to win was a disappointment and accentuated the Boks’ problems.

Yet again, I believe the handicap line is set too low in a New Zealand game. The All Blacks will play the best available first XV here, something they didn`t do in every match of the tournament. What`s more, the All Blacks rested some of their top guys last week in Argentina, so the team will be fresh – while South Africa is just one week removed of an exhausting test with Australia. This discrepancy in fitness should make a big difference in favor of the All Blacks.

The All Blacks will be ready and focused for this after fielding a weakened lineup last week in Buenos Aires. Look for New Zealand to impose its superiority early and run havoc on the wings, like they usually do. As the game goes on, New Zealand should capitalize on being fit and fresh, breaking lines easier, eventually pulling away from a tired and dejected Springboks side.

This South African team has clearly developed a complex against New Zealand, losing the last three matches by 28, 42 and 57 points, never showing even the slightest attempt of getting back in the match once it got out of control. With tired legs, low confidence and low morale, it`s unlikely they will do better this time around. Missing two key players will not help.

Weather is expected to be fine come game time in Newlands (4% chance of precipitation), so that should help New Zealand, as pretty much every time they were below their best this year it happened in (because of?) rain.

My tip is New Zealand to cover the 15.5 handicap. I think the point spread should be around 18-19 points, so it`s a pretty logical call to bet relatively high stakes on the All Blacks here. Expect a solid outing from the visitors, and that should be enough for them to record a comfortable 20+ point win. Prediction: South Africa – New Zealand 16 – 38.

Pick: New Zealand -15,5
Odds: 1.93 @ Pinnacle
Stake: 8
Possible profit: 7.44
Event date: 7 October

About Rostick

Former bookie & water polo player. Rugby Union expert. - EDITOR INFO & STATS
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