The Rugby Championship continues this weekend in Queensland as Australia faces South Africa and New Zealand plays Argentina. The ‘Boks and All Blacks have two wins each and ill look to remain undefeated over the next two weeks before a potentially epic pair of contests in Round 5 and Round 6.
Australia VS South Africa – Cbus Super Stadium, Gold Coast
The form for these two sides has been at opposite ends of the spectrum as South Africa sit second on the log with two wins and nine points following a pair of handy wins over Argentina (and a successful Lions tour previously). Australia, on the other hand, has been blown out twice by New Zealand and sits joint bottom of the log without a single point after two games.
After the flair of the All Blacks, the Wallabies will need a completely different mindset to match up with the power and brutality of the Springboks. The biggest change has been made at No. 10 with veteran Quade Cooper back in the jersey as coach Dave Rennie hopes his experience will allow him to put the Australian attack in position to be successful. Samu Kerevi looked very good in his first start in some time last weekend and in Marika Korobiete the Aussies have a pure game-changer on the wing.
The ‘Boks will be without their main game-changing wing as Cheslin Kolbe misses out here. He is replaced by Sbu Nkosi who partners Makazole Mapimpi on the wings. The big inclusion is Duane Vermeulen – perhaps the best No. 8 in world rugby – who is back in the side after ankle surgery for the first time since the 2019 World Cup. Those are two of seven changes in the starting XV – and 13 in the matchday 23 – with Faf de Klerk also returning to action.
It feels like this could be a long 80- minutes for Australia. I expect the ‘Boks to win at a canter and extend out the lead late to cover the -10.5 point spread with BetXchange.
New Zealand VS Argentina – Cbus Super Stadium, Gold Coast
Argentina stunned the All Blacks in the Rugby Championship last year but that already feels like a lifetime ago. The All Blacks have looked imperious with their two bonus-point wins over Australia, while the Pumas have struggled and didn’t even pick up a single bonus point in their two defeats at the hands of South Africa.
The Pumas welcome back Nicolas Sanchez as fly-half here and hope his inclusion makes a difference to their kicking game and attacking flow. Matias Maroni moves into the midfield, with wingers Bautista Delguy and Santiago Cordero coming into the starting XV. The back row of Pablo Matera, Marcos Kremer, and Rodrigo Bruni will have to be big for Argentina to have a sniff.
The controversial news for the All Blacks is that Jordie Barrett has been named at fullback after his red card from last week for raising his foot while catching a high ball. The expected ban was for four weeks, but the judicial committee found his play wasn’t worthy of a red card or a suspension. T.J. Peranara starts at scrum-half in the continued absence of Aaron Smith, but I expect the All Blacks to have way too much for the Pumas and cover the (huge) 22.5 point spread.