The Rugby Championship 2019: Round 3 Predictions

Agustin Creevy

I have a confession to make. Just before Round 2 started, I switched my pick from Argentina to Australia, which worked out pretty well and put me back into contention in most of my Superbru pools.

There are two tough picks to make this weekend, with the All Blacks playing the Wallabies in Perth, whilst the Springboks travel to Salta to take on the Pumas.

Australia v New Zealand
The All Blacks are providing some encouragement to the rest of the rugby world with their below-par performances in this tournament so far. Whether Australia can capitalise is a different story though. New Zealand have named a strong side, and I suspect all the talk of potential weaknesses will spur them on for a thumping victory to put everyone right.

In five of their last six matches against Australia, they have won by at least 20 points, and I think they’ll be there or thereabouts this weekend too.

New Zealand by 18

Argentina v South Africa
Confidence in the Springboks is rising just in time for the World Cup. Rassie Erasmus has quietly developed some depth in every position, and their defensive performance against the All Blacks last weekend was outstanding. They’ll be extremely tough to beat in Japan, and that could well take them all the way.

There are lots of changes again this week for the Pumas, and with the prospect of winning their first ever 4-team Rugby Championship title, I think South Africa will win.

South Africa by 9

26 thoughts on “The Rugby Championship 2019: Round 3 Predictions

  1. AB team (no commission required): Beauden Barrett, Ben Smith, Jack Goodhue, Anton Lienert-Brown, Rieko Ioane, Richie Mo’unga, Aaron Smith, Kieran Read (capt), Sam Cane, Ardie Savea, Sam Whitelock, Scott Barrett, Owen Franks, Dane Coles, Joe Moody. Res: George Bridge, Ngani Laumape, TJ Perenara, Matt Todd, Patrick Tuipulotu, Angus Ta’avao, Atu Moli, Codie Taylor. Surprised in a way that Hansen’s persisted with the d fly1/2 duo of Barrett & Mounga. Seems he reckons the latter needs game time for the WC. May also be influenced by NZ being previously down to a 4th choice fly1/2 during the WC? Also, Hansen has played with 2 different teams thus far & is still tuning some in Perth tomorrow. Therefore it’s early to comment on below-par performances just yet. Stated last up that NZ would look to do a number on SA, well ditto tomorrow.. I think. Looks a nr full strength AB team to me. By 12? SA, front row apart, also look nr full strength. 15-Willie le Roux, 14-Cheslin Kolbe, 13-Lukhanyo Am, 12-Damian de Allende, 11-Makazole Mapimpi, 10-Handre Pollard, 9-Faf de Klerk, 8-Duane Vermeulen (captain), 7-Pieter Steph du Toit, 6-Kwagga Smith, 5-Franco Mostert, 4-Eben Etzebeth, 3-Trevor Nyakane, 2-Bongi Mbonambi, 1-Tendai Mtawarira. Replacements: 16-Malcolm Marx, 17-Steven Kitshoff, 18-Frans Malherbe, 19-RG Snyman, 20-Francois Louw, 21-Herschel Jantjies, 22-Frans Steyn, 23-Jesse Kriel. Yet to view the Argentine side, but will this be a tight one? Could be a draw.

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  2. Argentina
    15 Emiliano Boffelli, 14 Santiago Cordero, 13 Matias Moroni, 12 Jeronimo de la Fuente, 11 Ramiro Moyano, 10 Nicolas Sanchez, 9 Tomas Cubelli, 8 Facundo Isa, 7 Javier Ortega Desio, 6 Pablo Matera (captain), 5 Marcos Kremer, 4 Matias Alemanno; 3 Juan Figallo, 2 Agustin Creevy, 1 Nahuel Tetaz Chaparro
    Substitutes: 16 Julian Montoya, 17 Mayco Vivas, 18 Santiago Medrano, 19 Guido Petti, 20 Tomas Lezana, 21 Gonzalo Bertanou, 22 Benjamin Urdapilleta, 23 Joaquin Tuculet. Don’t know this team that well, but seems pretty strong. Anyone else have a comment?

  3. Wallabies v New Zealand
    (1-15): Scott Sio, Tolu Latu, Allan Alaalatoa, Izack Rodda, Rory Arnold, Lukhan Sakakai-Loto, Michael Hooper (c), Isi Naisarani, Nic White, Christian Lealiifano, Marika Koroibete, Samu Kerevi, James O’Connor, Reece Hodge, Kurtley Beale.
    Bench: Folau Faingaa, James Slipper, Taniela Tupou, Adam Coleman, Luke Jones, Will Genia, Matt Toomua, Tom Banks.
    Cheika also mixing it up a bit, so interesting on how the match ups go.

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  4. I think without Retallick the Kiwis are badly diminished. Scott B is a fine player but no substitute for the worlds best. If i were a Aus fan I would also be happy to see them still running with the 10/15 RM/BB experiment. However, I can’t see Aus winning or for that matter getting within 8. Home advantage may count but only if their fans show up!

    I think the Boks will be too much for the Argies but with them having to go to Buenes Aires, I’d agree that it will be tighter than 9… I say 6…

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    1. AB’s may be diminished some, but hardly ‘badly’, by Retellick’s absence. Although Otije may disagree with this. I was initially surprised by Mounga’s playing @ 1st 5 with B Barrett @ 15. However, Hansen previously played with 2 fly 1/2’s when McKenzie also played @ 15. Also allows RM meaningful pre WC game time. Nevertheless, remains to be seen if the incumbent 10, 15 axis remains in Japan. I’d reckon on B Smith reversion to f/back with Sevu Reece taking his wing berth, but we’ll see. Deploying 2 playmakers may have its attraction by proving to be an effective option.

    1. OTOH BSB (what does this stand for BTW, yr initials, a motor bike?), Argentina face 3 losses in a row going into the WC. As they’re staring down the barrel, I think that they will indeed fight ‘tooth & nail’. As another loss could well indicate that they can kiss their WC arses g’bye, they are @ home whilst SA are away where they’re not always so good (Wellington notwithstanding, when their planned move of knocking it on & bouncing it off the face prior to retrieving it for that try @ the death), the result could well be in the balance, so we’ll see.

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      1. It’s my work profile which auto fills on comments and I’m too lazy to set up a separate account. See I can change the name so I’ll go with Bob. 🙂

      2. Well, it wasn’t in the balance afterall. Argentina caved instead. Prob early to ask, but are they now going to threaten anyone of note in the WC? Not on that showing. England can probably rest easy. Heralded for having a scrum, Argentina simply didn’t have one. Also, persisting in charging SA with 1 out runners v 2/3 was never going to work, yet they kept doing it. Suicide. By the end they’d also lost their defensive shape, got out of position. Played like novices & didn’t have the capacity to change it. Made the Saffers, whom played mostly R1 & with a rush defence, look even better. SA will be a WC threat, but that they only offered a knock on, off the face try in Wellington, they too may need to be more creative v better opposition.

  5. Red card really ruined the flow ffs. Entertaining match but NZ never hit a higher gear, not too much to takeaway from the match for me. Well played Aus.

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  6. Red card was a red card by the letter of the law but a shame none the less to see it happen. Greenwood pointed out in commentary that Garces hides behind the law when making big decisions so with a bit of homework perhaps this was to be expected at some point…

    I presume the kiwis don’t trust Barrett goal kicking in right RWC games, hence the mounga experiment. All I can comment is that as an England fan I’d far rather see Barrett at FB than 10. He looked dangerous when coming into the line today.

    The result today and various over the season show that the RWC isn’t ALL about beating the Kiwis. They remain the best in the world but there are plenty of contenders.

    With 15 vs 15 today the Aussies beat the Kiwis through the pack and DP this goes back to my initial point that Retallicks injury has a big impact. He is IMO the best player in the world and would have adapted quicker to the tackle area and lineout than Barrett.

    The Aussies were thoroughly the better team today but I suspect the Kiwis will be a lot better at Eden Park next week. I am looking forward to tuning in.

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    1. Wondered SJ. What are yr current thoughts on Retallicks absence & Mounga’s inclusion as a goal kicking replacement for B Barrett? More to do with deliberately deploying a dual play maker system? Have to admit, didn’t think that this was likely myself. Look more so now though?

  7. Well SJ, Garces also done for the AB’s in the Lions’ last test when he acted like Arleen Dar of Edgbaston. These things happen. Ask SBW. However, until the red, NZ were in it. Just seen an almost identical shoulder charge in the Sharks, Cheetahs match, but whereby ref, Rastas R, gave a yellow. What if Retallick had shouldered instead of Barrett? Yr adaptation contention is opinion & therefore somewhat on retro thin ice. Regds NZ not trusting B Barrett’s kicking, well they have for the past few yrs. Mounga is more likely in due to a potential dual 1st 5 strategy as prev, when D Mckenzie was in this role. I also, along with others, rate Retallick, but once again yr opinion about 15 v 15 Aus win is just that. Opinion. Aus played well. Especially in ‘taking it to NZ up front’. Had to have with only c. 24 tackles to NZ’s 150 odd in the 1st 1/!?. However, NZ are used to playing without the ball, but today, apparently, also missed 18 tackles by 1/2 time. Seemed to make less handling errors, but will look to improve their ‘D’. They may well learn more from this RC than if they’d waltzed it. Last chance to see next Sat. Also, the NH, particularly England, may have to revise their refrain that they ‘own their (Aus) scrum’.

    1. With regard to your persistent denigration of “opinions” Don, I think it was Marcus Aurelius the Stoic Philosopher and Roman Emperor (AD12-80) who wisely stated “Everything we hear is an opinion not a fact. Everything we see is a perspective, not the truth”. That seems to me to sum up pretty well how most of us see rugby. Good to see the Boks and Aussies on the rise and the AB´s looking vulnerable for a change. It should make for a belter of a tournament.

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      1. But surely, that’s just M Autelius’ opinion Andy. And did the wisely stoic Roman Emp & philosopher ever see a rugger game? Doubt it as, to the best of my & that English school boy’s knowledge, the game wasn’t around then. Of course that may just be MY opinion. And also, if that regal Ronan sage had been English & around today, would he have shared yr opinion about the apparent rise of the Boks & Aus & NZ’s vulnerability when down a man? Especially so when yr team may have to face 1 or more of them in the not so distant. Yikes! Enough to make MA shudder.

  8. If Retallick had shouldered instead of Barrett then he would have been sent off because it was a red card, by the letter of the law. Not sure what point you are making but perhaps you are suggesting that had Retallick been playing he would have been in exactly the same place on the pitch at exactly the same moment, which I don’t really know what to do with…

    Garces hasn’t ‘done’ the Kiwis twice and that I’d suggest is your partisan and subjective view. SBW red was an absolute red, no argument. Today’s red was by the letter of the law a red and the point that I was making is that while it was a shame it happened today it was identified that Garces will make these big game changing decisions based on the application of the law and teams need to be wary of this. Perhaps with a bit of homework this could have been avoided. Incidentally I thought the kiwis were intentionally going in hard on Hooper and Barrett’s card was because he got it slightly wrong / mistimed

    Fitzpatrick also agrees with ‘my’ opinion that 15 vs 15 Aus were better, so I will take that.

    England ‘owned’ the Aussie scrum between 2003 and 2009 – I don’t know who you are quoting but it certainly is not the entire English rugby watching public. We certainly didn’t at RWC 15!

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    1. SJ, you seemed to suggest that had Retallick played, he definitely wouldn’t have incurred a red, but who knows? Did you watch the Lions’ test? I was reffing to the pen @ the death, not SBW’s red. Greenwood doesn’t back yr objective, non partisan view on today’s red BTW, but what would he know? And did you see the Sharks v Cheetahs game? Check both out. Regds Fitzpatrick, another punter here reckoned he’s never stated anything incisive, so who should I believe? Can’t recall specifically whose quote it was about ‘owning’, but I certainly remember it from here more than once. Overall the win results were fairly even when I last looked & Aus tend to visit here more than vice versa, that’s all. Doubtless Mako Aurelius would have disapproved of this ‘owning’ bizzo though.

  9. NZ have some fixing to to rapido before the RWC. Forget about the red card debate, past three games they have been suspect in both defence and attack. For the first time in years, their attack has looked aimless and that ‘sixth sense’ they used to have is fading. Don’t get me wrong, still some flashes of brilliance but mainly from individual play. IMO I don’t think BB at 15 and Muanga @ 10 is working that great. Personally I’d have BB at 10, might be stating the obvious to NZ fans?

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    1. Well DM, most teams require some fixing methinks. That NZ also require same is nothing new. Prior to the prev 2 WC’s they also lost games, but presumably fixed things in time. NZ have also fielded 2 different teams for the 1st 2 RC games, made plenty unforced errors in both, somewhat uncharacteristically, but their defence held up ok in these I thought. Yesterday, they apparently missed 18 1st 1/2 tackles according to the Aus ‘taters & did look ragged @ times after the red, particularly nr the end. However, as Hansen has stated, AB players are normally rusty some @ this time of yr having not played much prior & together before the RC. And not playing particularly well, they were still not losing, until that red, so it ain’t quite the end of just yet. Whether they’ll continue with the d fly1/2 thing, I can’t say, but it does have the potential of 2 attacking pivots & kickers, so watch this space. Where NZ need attention IMO is @ the breakdown. Missing the robustness of Liam Squire here. They’ll have to win more in the loose & maybe throw more numbers. Additionally Hansen had already stated that his priority is the Bled & WC’s. A decent knock @ The Garden of Eden might put things into a different perspective when the fine tuning may be done. Maybe a case of not reading too much into too little, too soon? Possibly an old English trait? We’ll likely know more nxt Sat.. & this afternoon?!

  10. Yes all teams need some fixing, no team is perfect – but come on DP, even you must be scratching your head a bit right now and maybe even a small bead of sweat? Lol….

    1. Yes, frankly I’m shitting myself, NZ only bring ranked @ No.1.. still & all that. Only sweat beads If they lose by a shed load nxt Sat. Fingers xxed!
      Presumably you see an English avalanche in Cardiff? You must be confident.

  11. Big wins for Australia and SA.
    That was the best i’ve seen Aus play for quite a long time. Bringing back White at SH and O’Connor at centre worked a treat. The forwards completely outplayed their NZ counterparts. Aus finding some form at just the right time.
    Another impressive win for the Boks. They look like a side gathering momentum for the WC. I’m inching towards picking them for success.

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    1. Penetrating analysis Steve. Go on, you’re allowed to mention the red. You know you want to. G’luck in Cardiff! Be ironic wouldn’t it?

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