NEW ZEALAND v SOUTH AFRICA
When: Saturday September 15, 7.35pm
Where: Forsyth Barr Stadium, Dunedin
Referee: George Clancy (Ireland)
Head-to-Head: Played 83, All Blacks 46, South Africa 34, Drawn 3
In Dunedin: Played 8, All Blacks 7, South Africa 1
Last match: August 20, 2011: South Africa beat All Blacks 18-5 at Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium, Port Elizabeth
ALL BLACKS coach Steve Hansen is confident his side is moving in the right direction as it readies itself for an expected Bok-lash at Forsyth Barr Stadium on Saturday night.
While the All Blacks were once again guilty of failing to capitalise on all of their scoring chances against the Pumas in Wellington last week, they were still able to fight back from a scratchy first half effort to finish 15 points clear of the brave Argentines.
Given the dreadful conditions in the capital, Hansen was happy enough with the side’s 21-5 victory, particularly the way his charges were able to control the tempo and heap pressure on the Pumas in the second half. But he will be expecting to see a lot more polish under the roofed Dunedin stadium.
He’s looking forward to seeing the All Blacks forwards pick up from where they left off last week.
“We’ve got a forward pack that we can be proud of. We’ve just got to keep growing their ability to play the game and certainly [we’ll] be confident they can go to Dunedin and provide quality ball for what’s a pretty exciting backline,” says Hansen.
Skipper Richie McCaw, who is still having the odd issue with his handling, and lock Luke Romano were at the heart of the forward effort against the Pumas, tallying 14 and 11 ball carries respectively, while the latter was also New Zealand’s chief lineout target, snaring 11 takes.
“Obviously, [the lineout] went well. We pride ourselves on getting good set-piece ball to unleash our backs,” says Romano.
As well as securing 16 of their 17 lineouts (Kieran Read was the other main target with seven takes) on a difficult night for handling, the All Blacks were able to steal seven Argentine throws. They will need to replicate those same high standards against a Bok lineout featuring the likes of second-rower Juandre Kruger.
McCaw is looking for more accuracy from the All Blacks in Dunedin after they started last week’s test in something of a festival mood. That attitude cost them dearly when they coughed up an early try after Ma’a Nonu lost the ball in a jolting tackle in front of his own sticks.
“We probably needed to hold the ball at times when we tried to push passes,” says McCaw.
Aaron Cruden will retain the All Blacks No 10 jersey, despite a scratchy effort in Wellington, with Dan Carter set to miss this weekend’s test because of a lingering calf strain, while Liam Messam has been restored to the run-on team following his promising cameo off the bench.
This will be New Zealand’s first-ever test at Forsyth Barr Stadium.
AUSTRALIA v ARGENTINA
When: Saturday September 15, 8.05pm (10.05pm NZT)
Where: Skilled Park, Gold Coast
Referee: Wayne Barnes (England)
Head-to-Head: Played 17, Australia 12, Argentina 4, Drawn 1
In Gold Coast: N/A
Last match: October 10, 2003 (RWC): Australia beat Argentina 24-8 at Stadium Australia, Sydney
NOTHING IS impossible.
That’s the attitude the Pumas will be taking into their third and final away Rugby Championship test on the Gold Coast.
Having competed with the All Blacks for three-quarters of their admirable 21-5 loss at the Cake Tin, coach Santiago Phelan and his team crossed the Tasman with genuine optimism earlier this week.
“This game [against the All Blacks] gives us confidence, because of the way the players gave 100 percent on the field. It’s very important for us. We know that we have to keep on improving,” says Phelan.
While the Pumas have never beaten the All Blacks or the Springboks, they have won four and drawn one game against the Wallabies, but the last meeting between the sides – the 2003 Rugby World Cup opener in Sydney – saw the hosts romp to a comfortable 24-8 win.
The Wallabies will also be buoyed by their come-from-behind 26-19 victory over the Boks in Perth, though it came at a cost, with skipper Will Genia out for six months after injuring his knee and rookie lock Sitaleki Timani – Australia’s man of the match – out for at least this test with a low-grade hamstring tear. James O’Connor will join the squad this week but he is unlikely to be available until the team’s upcoming away games in Pretoria and Rosario.
Phelan says the Pumas were disappointed with the end result against the All Blacks, especially after only trailing 5-9 when flanker Julio Farias Cabello was sinbinned midway through the second half. But he couldn’t have been happier with the effort they put in.
He knows how vital it will be for Argentina to finish its away leg with another positive performance.
“This next game against Australia is very important to us.
“We need to keep working hard. Our way of working is sacrifice and humility – we try to do our best and every game is very important. We will try to do the same [this weekend] in Australia and in the future with New Zealand in Argentina.”
– Dave Campbell
There are plenty of mouth-watering clashes on offer this weekend.
Which player was unlucky not to make the Wallabies’ preliminary squad for the British and Irish Lions series?
Gordon Tietjens’ success in sevens is unrivalled and should place him in the same coaching league as Sir Alex Ferguson.
All Blacks coach Steve Hansen named a 38-man training squad and there are a couple of oversights worth highlighting