New Zealand look well on course for a sixth Rugby Championship triumph in seven years following two convincing wins over Australia in the opening rounds of this year’s competition.
The Pumas were 32-19 victors over South Africa in Mendoza a fortnight ago, having opened with a defeat to the Springboks in Durban, but are unlikely to repeat the feat against the All Blacks in Nelson.
Australia coach Michael Cheika, meanwhile, will be under pressure to get the Wallabies’ campaign off the ground when they host South Africa in Brisbane.
With the help of Opta, we take a statistical look at the third round of fixtures.
“Over the last few years they’ve improved and a side that knocks over the South Africans is a good side.” – #AllBlacks captain Kieran Read ahead of tomorrow night’s Test against Argentina ?? #NZLvARG pic.twitter.com/WkyAWDL0jI
— All Blacks (@AllBlacks) September 7, 2018
New Zealand v Argentina
Argentina will be full of confidence following their victory over South Africa last time out but their record against the All Blacks makes for grim reading – a draw in 1985 is the best they have to show from 26 matches against the world champions.
The only time the Pumas have ever led against New Zealand was in this fixture last year, which they went on to lose 39-22.
If Argentina are to record back-to-back Rugby Championship wins for the first time in their history, they will rely heavily on the defensive qualities of Marcos Kremer and captain Agustin Creevy – only Australia’s David Pocock (35) has made more tackles in this year’s tournament than the duo’s 33 and 28 respectively.
New Zealand have won each of their last seven games on home soil, including their last five by an average margin of 35 points.
This will be the first New Zealand Test to be held at Nelson’s Trafalgar Park, which hosted three matches at the 2011 Rugby World Cup.
Australia v South Africa
Each of the last two matches between these sides have ended in a draw – their only tie prior to that was in 2001.
The Wallabies have an impressive recent home record against the Springboks, having lost just one of the last nine meetings in Australia.
But they have been out of form in 2018 and have lost four of their five Tests this year. The last time they won fewer than five Tests in a calendar year was in 1995 (W4, L4).
South Africa are seven tries away from their 200th against Australia; they would be the first opponent against whom they have crossed for a double century of tries and just the second team to have done so against the Wallabies (New Zealand – 450).
No player has won more turnovers than Pocock (six) in this year’s tournament. South Africa’s Malcolm Marx can match Pocock’s total but is a shock omission from the Springboks’ starting XV, while Pocock has failed to recover from a neck injury and is also absent.
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