Ian Foster is under some serious pressure now as New Zealand head-coach, and you can’t help but defeat here may signal the end of his tenure. Despite the mounting pressure, however, Foster insists that his side’s 26-10 defeat to South Africa last weekend was the most improved performance he’s seen all year from his side and seems remarkably confident heading into this second match of the series, in which a defeat would all but end their chances of retaining the title.
The Springboks looked to be on the back foot from the get-go when they lost star half-back Faf de Klerk, though they regrouped and put in the professional display that we’ve become accustomed to from the World Champions.
They’re certainly not unbeatable, as Wales, England, Australia (twice) and New Zealand themselves have all proven in the last year, though on home soil it’s a different story with four of those five defeats coming away and we’d expect another competent display against a visiting side at sixes and sevens, despite ringing the changes.
Indeed, Jacques Nienaber has made five changes to his starting lineup, with de Klerk and Kurt-Lee Arendse being ruled out with concussion, so Jaden Hendrikse and Jesse Kriel come in to replace them, respectively. Third choice hooker Joseph Dweba comes into the side, though they’ll hardly be losing any power up top with ‘Big Joe’ in there.
A big call from Foster sees Beauden Barrett drop to the bench, with Richie Mo’unga coming in at 10 in the only change to the backline from last week. The five-eighth guided the Crusaders to Super Rugby glory this year, but has largely been a bit part player this year and will be making his first start of 2022.
All Blacks +5.5 Handicap
The Kiwis have now lost five of their last six tests and are looking to avoid making it four successive defeats for the first time since 1998, while they’ve not lost six in seven since 1949.
Ultimately it seems as though the Boks have too much for their opponents at this moment in time, especially up top with Duane Vermeulen coming back into the side after successful knee surgery.
They’ve now won five of their last six home games, losing only by a point in that exception to Wales just last month. The task looks too tall for this underwhelming visiting Kiwi side, though we’d expect them to run this closer than last week in more favourable conditions.
Indeed, six of the last eight clashes between the two have been separated by a maximum of two points or none at all, with New Zealand only once losing by more than that two-point margin to the Springboks in the last 19 meetings, leaving the 5.5 handicap worth getting behind in a must win game for the visitors, even if they don’t manage to come out on top.
ALL BLACKS +5.5 HANDICAP
Springboks v All Blacks Teams
South Africa: 15 Damian Willemse, 14 Jesse Kriel, 13 Lukhanyo Am, 12 Damian de Allende, 11 Makazole Mapimpi, 10 Handre Pollard, 9 Jaden Hendrikse , 8 Duane Vermeulen, 7 Pieter-Steph du Toit, 6 Siyamthanda Kolisi (captain), 5 Lodewyk de Jager, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Frans Malherbe, 2 Mbongeni Mbonambi, 1 Retshegofaditswe Nche.
Replacements: 16 Malcolm Marx , 17 Steven Kitshoff, 18 Vincent Koch, 19 Franco Mostert, 20 Albertus Smith, 21 Hershel Jantjies, 23 Willie le Roux.
New Zealand: 15 Jordie Barrett, 14 Will Jordan, 13 Rieko Ioane, 12 David Havili, 11 Caleb Clarke, 10 Richie Mo’unga, 9 Aaron Smith, 8 Ardie Savea, 7 Sam Cane (captain), 6 Shannon Frizell, 5 Scott Barrett, 4 Sam Whitelock, 3 Tyrel Lomax, 2 Samson Taukei’aho, 1 Ethan de Groot.
Replacements: 16 Codie Taylor, 17 George Bower, 18 Fletcher Newell, 19 Tupou Vaa’i, 20 Akira Ioane, 21 Finlay Christie, 22 Beauden Barrett, 23 Quinn Tupaea.
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