Springboks poised to overtake All Blacks in Rugby Championship
Despite all the uncertainty surrounding the Rugby Championship, an important game is still happening this weekend.
The All Blacks top the Springboks on points difference after both secured bonus-point victories last weekend in the opening round of the annual southern hemisphere competition.
However, next weekend’s scheduled match between Australia and New Zealand in Perth has been called off after the All Blacks announced Friday that they were withdrawing from the tournament until fixtures have been rescheduled to work around coronavirus restrictions.
Springbok head coach Jacques Nienaber and counterpart Mario Ledesma have rung the changes for Saturday’s match.
Despite resting those stars and a few others, the Springboks convincingly won last week’s match with a 32-12 scoreline.
“You can never underestimate the power of the Argentinian side,” said Springbok assistant coach Mzwandile Stick. “We know they are a very physical side and they are very passionate about their jersey and they got good players.
“Our players were switched on for the [first] game. They knew the challenges they were going to face in the game and we knew what we wanted to achieve. We had a good plan and the plan was to respect Argentina.
“For us, it wasn’t a matter of disrespecting them it was a matter of making sure we selected the best possible team at that time.”
Stick is expecting the physicality to go up a notch in the second test.
“I think they selected a very strong and experienced squad,” Stick added. “Argentina always bring the physical challenge.
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“They are very emotional and everything they do as a country you can see there is passion behind it.
“If we want to stand a chance to win the game physically, we need to pitch up. We know it’s going to be a physical game, but the team that is going to be more disciplined in how they execute the physical side of the game will have a good chance of winning the game.”
Meanwhile, Ledesma has made six personnel and two positional changes as the Pumas seek only a second victory in South Africa, where they have lost 13 tests.
Ledesma will be hoping his team can do a better job of unlocking the Springboks’ defence.
“We weren’t happy with that [attacking game],” said Ledesma.
“I thought we didn’t execute well because we were under pressure from the South African defence.
“Everybody is trying hard to score [against South Africa], but we think we can do things better and we think we can take to the field what we have been practising during the week.”
Players to watch
South Africa: The defending champions have several key players back for the second Test. Wing Cheslin Kolbe is a match-winner, and he has the skills to unlock any defence. Centre Damian de Allende was probably South Arica’s best player during the B&I Lions series. He carries the ball powerfully and will give the Argentinians plenty of problems in the midfield. Among the forwards, lock Marvin Orie starts for the first time after five appearances off the bench, which allows Eben Etzebeth to take a break.
Argentina: Flyhalf Domingo Miotti has a massive job on his hands. He comes into Saturday’s Test with only four caps to his name. However, he could be the spark that gets Argentina going on attack. His halfback partner Gonzalo Bertranou is a tricky customer around the rucks and he will provide Miotti with some quality ball. Lock Guido Petti moves to the back row for Saturday’s match and his physical presence will be needed against a big Bok pack.
Los Pumas know that if they have any chance of upsetting the Springboks at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium they will need to try and nullify the Springboks’ pack.
Tomas Lavanini gets a start in the second row and he is a player who likes to play on the edge. His inclusion will provide Marvin Orie with a big test in that second-row battle.
In the backline, Santiago Chocobares and Jeronimo de la Fuente will have to be on top of their game if they are going to contain the world’s best midfield pairing in the form of Damian de Allende and Lukhanyo Am.
South Africa by 15 points.
South Africa: 15 Willie le Roux, 14 Cheslin Kolbe, 13 Lukhanyo Am, 12 Damian de Allende, 11 Makazole Mapimpi, 10 Handré Pollard, 9 Cobus Reinach, 8 Jasper Wiese, 7 Franco Mostert, 6 Siyamthanda Kolisi (captain), 5 Lodewyk de Jager, 4 Marvin Orie, 3 Thomas du Toit, 2 Malcolm Marx, 1 Trevor Nyakane.
Argentina: 15 Juan Cruz Mallía, 14 Ignacio Mendy, 13 Santiago Chocobares, 12 Jeronimo de la Fuente, 11 Santiago Carreras, 10 Domingo Miotti, 9 Gonzalo Bertranou, 8 Rodrigo Bruni, 7 Guido Petti, 6 Pablo Matera, 5 Tomas Lavanini, 4 Matias Alemanno, 3 Francisco Gomez Kodela, 2 Julian Montoya (captain), 1 Nahuel Tetaz Chaparro.
Date: Saturday, August 21
Venue: Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium, Port Elizabeth
Kick-off: 17.00 (12.00 Buenos Aires time; 15.00 GMT)
Expected weather: Mostly sunny skies with a high of 18°C and a low of 9°C. Winds WSW at 15 to 30 km/h.
Referee: Karl Dickson (England)
Assistant referees: Marius van der Westhuizen (South Africa), AJ Jacobs (South Africa)
TMO: Tom Foley (England)
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