Weekend teams and predictions

Pollard and Lood stay, while Gurthro and Juan return. Beale remains at 10 ahead of Foley for Aus, while the Kiwis return to Smith central. A look at the weekend’s teams, times, refs, odds and predictions.

Tank Lanning

Saturday 23 August

09h35 – New Zealand v Australia, Eden Park, Auckland   

Referee: Romain Poite

AR’s: Jaco Peyper and Stuart Berry

TMO: Shaun Veldsman

Tank’s prediction: NEW ZEALAND to beat Australia by 16

Superbru community: NEW ZEALAND to beat Australia by 7

Oddschecker: NEW ZEALAND (3/11) to beat Australia (4/1)

I really do think Ewen McKenzie has got the Kurtley Beale ahead of Bernard Foley selection wrong. And why one would not start with man-beast Will Skelton is beyond me. That said, I think the Kiwis have also got it wrong with Cruden playing ahead of Barrett, but that has less of an impact on the world’s best side! Both sides were poor last Saturday, and one cannot say that too often when it comes to the All Blacks. The Aussies let an opportunity slip! I am not sure that gate will be so wide open at Eden Park this weekend …

The All Blacks are definitely not the indestructible force they once were, but it does amaze me how quickly a few of their own are to write them off. While playing poorly, and with 14 men for 20 minutes, they still managed to eke out a draw away from home at a stadium decked out in canary gold! Like the Crusaders, the All Blacks are notorious slow starters. Write them off at your peril!

New Zealand: 15 Ben Smith, 14 Cory Jane, 13 Conrad Smith, 12 Ryan Crotty, 11 Julian Savea, 10 Aaron Cruden, 9 Aaron Smith, 8 Kieran Reid, 7 Richie McCaw (captain), 6 Liam Messam, 5 Sam Whitelock, 4 Brodie Retallick, 3 Owen Franks, 2 Dane Coles, 1 Wyatt Crockett.

Bench: 16 Keven Mealamu, 17 Ben Franks, 18 Charlie Faumuina, 19 Steven Luatua, 20 Sam Cane, 21 TJ Perenara, 22 Beauden Barrett, 23 Malakai Fekitoa

Australia: 15 Israel Folau, 14 Pat McCabe, 13 Adam Ashley-Cooper, 12 Matt Toomua, 11 Rob Horne, 10 Kurtley Beale, 9 Nic White, 8 Wycliff Palu, 7 Michael Hooper (captain), 6 Scott Fardy, 5 Rob Simmons, 4 Sam Carter, 3 Sekope Kepu, 2 Nathan Charles, 1 James Slipper

Bench: 16 James Hanson, 17 Pek Cowan, 18 Ben Alexander, 19 Will Skelton, 20 Scott Higginbotham, 21 Nick Phipps, 22 Bernard Foley, 23 Tevita Kuridrani


21h40 – Argentina v South Africa, Padre Ernesto Martearena Stadium, Salta

Referee: Steve Walsh

AR’s: John Lacey and Marius Mitrea

TMO: Vinny Munro

Tank’s prediction: SOUTH AFRICA to beat Argentina by 9

Superbru community: SOUTH AFRICA to beat Argentina by 10

Oddschecker: SOUTH AFRICA (1/5) to beat Argentina (5/1)

Yep, it was tight in the hail at Loftus, and the Pumas could well have eked out a second draw against the number 2 ranked side in the world. But … South Africa and Argentina have played each other 18 times since 1993, with the Springboks winning 17 of them. The Boks have scored 695 points and 85 tries and conceded 330 points and 30 tries for an average score of 39-18.

Beast Mtawarira made an awful hash of things last week against the Bajada and needed to be replaced. Gurthro Steenkamp is an honest, hardworking pro, who will not let the Boks down. It’s good to see coach Heyneke Meyer making these ballsy decisions. As said in my column earlier, that Beast remains on the bench, and who of the looseheads in the squad replaces him, remain questionable, but those are secondary arguments.

It’s great to see Meyer having the guts to stick with Handre Pollard at flyhalf. This lightie deserves an extended stay, perhaps one that will not be interrupted for a long time!

This weekend’s loose trio is better served, and much more balanced, with a proper blind side flank in Juan Smith replacing the injured Willem Alberts, rather than playing a second fetcher in Marcel Coetzee. It also offers the team another lineout option to aid another part of the Bok game that was not as slick as it should have been last week. It does make sense to have Coetzee on the bench as cover for François Louw given, though. One simply cannot play modern day rugby without a fetcher.

Against a spoiling, physical side, I would have had both Bakkies Botha and Eben Etzebeth in my starting XV to fight fire with a bit of fire, especially given the soft performance from Lood de Jaager, who was also fairly non-existent come scrum time, last week. But as with Pollard, one cannot really fault giving De Jaager another run. He needs a biggie, though.

The Boks need to sharpen up their first phase, rise above the negative niggle, and play some rugby this weekend.

Argentina: 15 Joaquin Tuculet, 14 Lucas Gonzalez Amorosino, 13 Marcelo Bosch, 12 Juan Martín Hernández, 11 Manuel Montero, 10 Nicolás Sánche, 9 Martin Landajo, 8 Juan Manuel Leguizamón, 7 Juan Martín Fernández Lobbe, 6 Paul Matera, 5 Thomas Lavanini, 4 Mariano Galarza, 3 Ramiro Herrera 2 Agustín Creevy (c), 1 Marcos Ayerza.

Bench: 16 Matias Cortese, 17 Bruno Postiglioni, 18 Nahuel Tetaz Chaparro, 19 Matias Alemanno, 20 Leonardo Senatore, 21 Tomas Cubelli, 22 Jeronimo de la Fuente, 23 Horacio Agulla.

South Africa: 15 Willie le Roux, 14 Cornal Hendricks, 13 Damian de Allende, 12 Jean de Villiers (captain), 11 Bryan Habana, 10 Handré Pollard, 9 Ruan Pienaar, 8 Duane Vermeulen, 7 Juan Smith, 6 Francois Louw, 5 Lood de Jager, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Jannie du Plessis, 2 Bismarck du Plessis (vice-captain), 1 Gurthrö Steenkamp

Bench: 16 Adriaan Strauss, 17 Tendai Mtawarira, 18 Frans Malherbe, 19 Bakkies Botha, 20 Marcell Coetzee, 21 Francois Hougaard, 22 Morné Steyn, 23 Lwazi Mvovo