South Africa travel to Dunedin to take on New Zealand in a must-win game (8.35am BST, Saturday) for Heyneke Meyer’s Springboks after their loss last weekend to Australia.
South Africa have now only won one out of their three opening matches and a defeat at the new Forsyth Barr stadium will rule them out of winning the first Rugby Championship title.
New Zealand rarely lose at home. In fact South Africa were the last team to win there, back in 2009. They rarely even come close to losing on their own turf. Last weekend in a windy Wellington, Argentina gave them a real battle for 60 minutes before the All Blacks superior class and finishing told.
They scored tries through Julien Savea and Corey Jane to add some gloss to the scoreline. Admittedly the weather did not allow the All Blacks to throw the ball around as much as they would have liked, but against one of the best front fives in the world, coach Steve Hansen would have been pleased with the work out.
The All Blacks have made changes again and not as a result of injuries but more from a squad rotation viewpoint. Piri Weepu, Liam Messam, Sam Whitelock and Andrew Hore come into the side for Aaron Smith, Victor Vito, Brodie Rettalick and Kevin Mealamu. It means that Adam Thompson and Ben Smith drop out of the 22 all together.
Dunedin used to be one of the toughest places for away teams to win in world rugby, but with the newly built Forsyth Barr stadium now in place, conditions will be perfect on Saturday, as there is the option to close the roof if needed.
This retractable roof will favour the All Blacks as their back line is far superior to the Springboks, who have limited subtlety and creativity apart from scrum half Ruan Pienaar.
Dan Carter is still out for New Zealand so Aaron Cruden will continue at fly-half. He will enjoy the environment far more this weekend, compared to the atrocious conditions they faced against the Pumas last weekend.
South Africa have made two changes to their side, bringing in Bath flanker Francois Louw and Flip van der Merwe for Marcell Coetzee and Eben Etzebeth. Etzebeth has been suspended for two weeks for his attempted head butt on Nathan Sharpe last weekend against Australia.
South Africa are going through a poor run of form, and with the team that Heyneke Meyer continues to select, they don’t look like improving any time soon. South Africa rely very heavily on a kick and chase game. That is great when you are leading, or in a tight game, but as soon as you get behind it is useless.
There is absolutely no creativity at 10, 12, 13 and full back Zane Kirchner might as well be a forward – he loves contact that much. The best thing that can happen to South Africa is that they get thrashed, which is highly likely, so they are forced to rethink their strategy, and hopefully give talented players such as Pat Lambie, Juan de Jongh and Johan Goosen a start. The Sharks lost in the final of the Super 15 and played some fantastic rugby along the way, and there are only three players from that side in the starting XV for South Africa, that is where the problem lies.
New Zealand v South Africa Betting Tips Verdict
New Zealand look far too strong for anyone at the moment. A below-par Springbok side don’t have a chance in a stadium perfect for running rugby.