New Zealand look to extend their already huge lead at the top of The Rugby Championships ladder when they play host to South Africa on Saturday night.
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The All Blacks head into this encounter on the back of a strong finish against Argentina, emerging 57-22 winners, while the Springboks were toppled 23-17 by Australia in Brisbane last week. The game will be played at AMI Stadium in Christchurch, with kick off scheduled for 5.35pm AEST (7.30pm local).
Hailed as one of the greatest All Blacks sides in history, the bookies are giving almost no chance to South Africa as they make the trip across the ditch to face traditional rivals New Zealand on Saturday night in Christchurch. New Zealand produced a rugby masterclass in the second half of their victory over Argentina last week, scoring 33 unanswered points from the 50th minute to register what was ultimately a comfortable 35-point triumph. Argentina provided stern resistance in the opening half and even took an early 7-0 lead, but in reflection of the entire 80 minutes, New Zealand scoring eight tries to one was probably an accurate representation of their dominance.
So impressive was their display that online bookmaker sportsbet.com.au
have listed the All Blacks as overwhelming $1.04 favourites on Saturday - their lowest odds at home in history against the Springboks, who are $11.00 to cause a massive upset. All that transfers over to a -22 points start handicap for New Zealand, meaning Steve Hansen’s side will have to win by 22 points or more to cover the start at $1.90.
Latest odds courtesy of Sportsbet:
Despite New Zealand’s current dominance and South Africa’s current woes - the Springboks have lost their last two games against Argentina and Australia - Hansen is warning his side can’t afford to take this game lightly by any means.
“We know they’ll be hurting and desperate to get a result after their loss on the weekend,” Hansen said during the week. “Therefore, our personal preparation this week will have to be at the highest level — bone deep with real clarity.
“We’ve worked hard this week on improving in the areas we felt weren’t good enough last weekend. We’re confident that those areas have been addressed and our performance will be improved.”
Springboks coach Allister Coetzee has made a couple of changes to his side, with the bulk of the team set to face the All Blacks for the first time. Pieter-Steph du Toit replaces Lood de Jager at lock, while Vincent Koch comes into the team at tight-head prop at the expense of Lourens Adriaanse. Hooker Malcom Marx will also make his Test debut from the bench.
Hansen meanwhile has been forced into one change from the side that upstaged Argentina, with flanker Ardie Savea starting a Test match for the first time as he replaces the injured Sam Cane in the No. 7 jersey.
Prediction + Recommended Bet:
South Africa haven’t won in New Zealand since their clean sweep of the All Blacks during the 2009 Tri Nations series. Furthermore, New Zealand have won seven of their last eight meetings in all competitions - including the 2015 World Cup semi-finals last year. The majority of those games were tight affairs, but taking both side’s current form into consideration, this one could potentially be a blow-out. If you fancy another close game then odds of $4.20 for New Zealand 1-12 with Sportsbet are tempting. However the most likely scenario is a big All Blacks win, so take the Kiwis at a handicap of -22 ($1.90, sportsbet.com.au
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