Last weekend’s matches were slightly more predictable than Round 4, with 95% and 93% on Superbru correctly picking the wins for South Africa and New Zealand.
The All Blacks wrapped up The Rugby Championship, but face a stern test in Johannesburg this weekend, whilst Australia travel to Argentina looking to avoid the wooden spoon.
Here are my Rugby Championship predictions for the final round.
South Africa v New Zealand
How great for Rugby if this becomes are more evenly-matched rivalry? I really feel like the Springboks’ win in Wellington was a shot in the arm for Rugby, a demonstration a year out from the Rugby World Cup that the unbeatable All Blacks can be beaten, and it is worth turning up.
History tells us that you very rarely beat New Zealand twice in a row, with South Africa last managing to do so back in 2009. But in fact, history tells us that you very rarely beat New Zealand at all, so there’s probably not much use in looking back.
Instead, we can look forward to a great occasion at Loftus Versfeld, where the All Blacks will be desperate for revenge. The hosts will likely need another outstanding defensive display, dominating collisions with relentless line speed, along with plenty more of the luck that came their way. They’ll need to take every chance, and hope that the opposition is as generous with mistakes, and as profligate with their own scoring opportunities, for it is clear that you need a bit of luck to beat New Zealand.
The All Blacks hate to lose, and a defeat here is unthinkable for their fans, players and coaches alike. I suggest they will have learnt more from their shortcomings in Wellington than they would have done had they crossed for a try in the dying minutes, as usual. If the same scenario plays out this weekend, will we see them looking for a dropped goal? Another off day seems unlikely, but the travel factor and altitude is a factor, and I think they have more to lose than South Africa – and every team has shown that mistakes can arise when pressure is applied.
Hopefully it will be another tight game, and I’m picking the hosts mostly with my heart because it’s boring when New Zealand always win, and it’s boring to keep predicting their dominance.
South Africa by 2
Argentina v Australia
This game has a similar context, with the Wallabies looking to avenge defeat in the reverse fixture, and the hosts seeking to back up that win to prove that it wasn’t a fluke. There is also the wooden spoon to consider, with the Pumas keen to avoid the dubious honour for only the second time since they joined the competition. Australia has never finished bottom of the log since expansion in 2012.
I have found Argentina’s games very difficult to predict, but I think they’ll have more motivation to win this one than the out-of-sorts Australians that have lost 8 of their last 10 Test matches.
Argentina by 6