These two went toe-to-toe in their outing in Townsville last weekend, with two early tries followed by a kick off for the remaining 70 minutes of the game, only for New Zealand to clinch the deciding three pointer with just two minutes to play.
Despite the victory, the All Blacks were allowing some uncharacteristic mistakes to sneak into their game, and they can ill afford to be as sloppy this time round against the World Champions.
That’s now three defeats on the bounce for the Springboks for the first time since November 2016, and that was also the last time they lost four in a row so it’s not inconceivable that they’d do so again here.
The All Blacks have had the beating of their southern hemisphere rivals recently, going W4-D1-L1 against the Boks across their last six outings, though with very little to separate the sides in terms of quality, it’s no surprise that these have often been games of fine margins. Indeed, five of those six matches have been separated by two points or fewer, and on neutral soil again we’d expect a similarly close encounter.
The South Africans looked to have the better of their opponents in the scrum last weekend, and that looks to be the area of the field they’ll try and dominate once again. If their forwards can win and secure the ball with regularity, there are certainly more weaknesses to exploit in this Kiwi side than we’ve seen in years gone by.
You don’t automatically become a poor side overnight, so three successive defeats shouldn’t worry the Boks, and they’ll be confident they know how to dismantle their opponents this weekend.
Springboks +8 Handicap
The All Blacks have now secured the Rugby Championship, so there was suggestion that Ian Foster would have switched up a lot here to give some fringe player a go, though he’s largely stuck with the same pack with Luke Jacobson resuming his role that he held before being a late withdrawal last weekend.
The main switch ups come on the flanks as Will Jordan and George Bridge have been removed with Sevu Reece coming into the side and Rieko Ioane moving back to his preferred wing position from the centres.
Despite the Championship wrapped up, there’s more than enough motivation for both sides.
New Zealand will be looking to make this their first Grand Slam victory since 2016, while South Africa need to avoid going into a rut. We’d expect another tough and intense match up, and the handicap line on the World Champions looks the smart play here.
SPRINGBOKS +8 HANDICAP