Rugby Championship 2012: Preview and Predictions, Round 6
Well done and hearty congratulations to the All Blacks for putting in their best display this year to demolish the Pumas in Argentina and clinch the new Rugby Championship trophy. It was a ruthless display of running rugby set up by a powerful forward effort and coach Hansen will be stoked that they finally managed to finish off the opportunities they created.
Bok coach Heyneke Meyer will be smiling this week as the Springboks finally got back to winning ways with an improved 80 min performance against a dick punched in the face with injuries, Wallaby side. The showing from the home side was indeed better but it must be said that the Wallabies are really struggling with injuries and Robbie Deans will be a worried man ahead of their last game this weekend. Will he still have a job if they lose in Argentina? Tricky times ahead for the beleaguered coach and no mistake.
Only two more games left of the Rugby Championships and the Pumas have definitely added some much-needed seasoning to what was becoming a rather bland tournament. Can they get their first win on Sat? I certainly hope so. Let’s have a look-see and as the Rooftop Singers once sang “Walk right in, sit right down, daddy let you mind roll on”.
Springboks vs All Blacks
The All Blacks have stressed that they will not be complacent this week and that this game will define their season. I am not so sure about that last part but one thing is certain and that is that they love beating the Boks in South Africa almost as much as we hate losing to them. I was at Soccer Stadium when they won in the last couple of minutes in 2010 and it felt very much like being kicked in the jollies…twice.
The have brought in wing Hosea Gear in place of Julien Savea and lock Brodie Retallick comes in for Luke Romano but have otherwise kept the same side that did the business last Sat. Right wing Cory Jane scored a hat trick of tries last week and with fullback Israel Dagg in the form of his life, the Bokke will do well to not aimlessly kick at the back three willy nilly. The All Blacks have said they are expecting a more expansive game from the Bokke and are ready for it but is that what they will encounter?
Both captain Jean de Villiers and Heyneke Meyer stressed that they did not change the game plan last week but just managed to convert pressure into points and perhaps that is true but a change in personnel definitely had a big impact. Johan Goosen started a bit nervously but soon settled and the fact that he is flatter on attack means the backline gets the ball quicker and this opened up some gaps. The young Goose had a good game but is still finding his feet at this level and will be thoroughly tested this week.
The Bok forwards once again looked very much the part and Fran Louw, Duane Vermeulen and Willem man mountain Alberts all had crackers. Eben massive guns Etzebeth and Andries tall timber Becker were sublime. If the forwards can repeat their performance they could once again unsettle the All Blacks, which would allow the backs the time and space needed, either for tactical kicks, (hopefully converted) penalty kicks and dare I say it, maybe even some tries. On the subject of backs, how great was Bryan Habana last week? Sheer fried awesome.
This will be Test rugby at it’s best and defense will be crrritical. Expect safety first option taking, a full house of passionate fans, big hits and plenty of kicking for territory. Will the All blacks tire in the last 10 or so minutes? Will the Bokke convert all of their shots at goal and will their be some second half streaking? We can only hope.
Venue: Soccer City, Soweto
Kick-Off: Sat, 5:00pm
Referee: Alain ‘you have used all your subs’ Rolland
Springboks vs All Blacks Prediction: Springboks by less than 7
Pumas vs Wallabies
The Pumas tried in vain to play a running game against the World Champs last Sat and although they scored the first try were made to pay for the strategy by a far better side. This week, they come up against a limping, injury ravaged Wallaby side who probably go into the game as underdogs. They have kept the same side and will know that this is their best chance of their first Rugby Championship win.
Robbie Deans has made 5 changes to his side and has given wing Nic Cummins his first Test cap in this game. In other changes, Mike Harris starts at fullback, Sitaleki Timani comes in at flank, Ben Tapuai comes in at centre, James Slipper slots in at prop and Scott Higginbotham makes a return to the side, albeit off the bench.
The Wallabies have the players capable of sparking a win this week, don’t forget about the now tacheless Kurtley tache Beale but they are going to have to improve their breakdown play and be as wily as ever in the scrums.
The Pumas will need to put together a full 80 min effort and will hope the passionate fans can carry them through to a famous victory. They will need their forwards to dominate and their backs to front up in defense and then with a bit of luck.. who knows man, who knows
Venue: Estadio Gigante de Arroyito, Rosario
Kick-Off: Sunday, 01:10am
Referee: Craig Joubert
Pumas vs Wallabies Prediction: Pumas by less than 7