The Springboks will be looking to make a statement against the All Blacks after shocking back-to-back defeats by the Wallabies. Australia looks to continue its recent resurgence in the other match against an Argentina side looking for its first win of the 2021 Rugby Championship.
New Zealand VS South Africa – Queensland Country Bank Stadium, Townsville
The 100th contest between South Africa and New Zealand may have lost a little of its luster following the Springboks’ back-to-back defeats by the Wallabies but it is still an enthralling clash. The All Blacks remain unbeaten in the 2021 Rugby Championship after a couple of ho-hum wins over Argentina and the differing form of each squad has seen New Zealand jump South Africa to move back to No. 1 in the World Rugby Rankings.
All Blacks head coach Ian Foster has made eight changes to the team that beat the Pumas last time out as he goes back to his big guns for this one. The back row will be made up of the returning Akira Ooane and Luke Jacobson partnering captain Ardie Savea, while the Barrett trio is reunited with Scott partnering Brodie Retallick at lock and joining Baeuden (fly-half) and Jordie (fullback) in the starting XV.
The Springboks have looked a little tired over the last couple of weeks – understandable given that they faced a full touring series against the British & Irish Lions before heading into the Rugby Championship – but they should be well up for this one. Jacques Nienaber makes a pair of changes to his team as Kwagga Smith starts ahead of Franco Mostert and Lood de Jager returns to the second row. A touch of the glitz has been taken off with the news that Cheslin Kolbe is still out.
I expect to see the best that the ‘Boks can bring here. I think they overlooked the Wallabies with one eye on this Test and they will look to make a statement. I do, however, think that the freshness of New Zealand will prove to be too much and that the All Blacks will win as the ‘Boks cover the -13.5 point line at 9/10 with BetXchange.
Australia VS Argentina – Queensland Country Bank Stadium, Townsville
The Pumas have won just two of their 18 Tests against the Wallabies on Australian soil, the last being a 23-19 victory on the Gold Coast in 2018. Given the difference in confidence that these two sides are coming into this one with it is hard to see how the Pumas will rise from their four Rugby Championship beatings thus far to beat the team that just knocked off the – at the time – World No. 1 team in back-to-back weeks.
Argentina will unleash the same starting XV on the Wallabies as in their Test with the All Blacks last weekend. This means that Santiago Carreras keeps his place in the outside-half jersey alongside scrum-half Gonzalo Bertranou. This makes sense as the Pumas were much better in their second match against New Zealand than in their first.
The Wallabies have made a pair of changes to their team after those wins against South Africa. Reece Hodge makes his first start of the year at fullback ahead of the injury Tom Banks, while blindside flanker Rob Leota will make his run-on debut for the green and gold. James O’Connor – who was tipped to slot in at fullback – is the only new name on an otherwise unchanged bench.
Australia is flying and it is hard to see Argentina putting up much of a fight here. Take the home side -10.5 points at 9/10 with BetXchange.