Monday, April 02, 2007

3N: Springboks vs. All Blacks preview

August 25, 2006

Despite the All Blacks having clinched the Tri-Nations championshiop last week, tomorrow's test match against the Springboks at altitude in Pretoria looks like it could be a cracker. For one, it'll be the Boks first home test of the tournament, and they'll be looking to spank the All Blacks and build some confidence and momentum going into the World Cup next year.

The All Blacks have made sweeping changes to the starting XV to face the Springboks from the side that defeated the Wallabies last Saturday.

South African star loose forward Joe van Niekerk is a late scratch.

Rugby Planet has their test preview up. They predict South Africa to win by four points. Bookies pick NZ by six.

Mark Keohane thinks the Boks will beat the All Blacks; he desperately wants the Boks to beat the All Blacks; but conceeds it may be a hollow victory:

The Springboks will beat the All Blacks in Pretoria — and it is the result world rugby needs.

The All Blacks coaching staff has rolled the dice of good fortune one too many times, picking the core of their second-string squad members to play the best available Springboks in South Africa. They call it squad rotation and confidence in the depth of their squad. We in South Africa call it an insult. The team is still a good one, but it is the symbolism of what Henry has done that has insulted the South Africans. He has turned to the back-up to deliver a first test win in South Africa for him as All Blacks coach.

For a man who has limited success in South Africa it is a brave call or simply one that reflects his thoughts on the current strength of the Springboks.

Either way, Henry and his All Blacks must be made to pay, this weekend and next weekend. Back to back defeats for the All Blacks will bring some sanity to the test arena, whereas New Zealand success will only add imbalance to the pecking order. [...]

That is why it is so important the All Blacks coming crashing back to planet Earth in Pretoria. And they will. They haven’t picked a good enough team to win and mentally these players are not strong enough to beat a fired up Bok team in Pretoria.

The Boks are desperate, having lost four in a row. I don’t think it matters who Jake White picks for Saturday’s match, they will not be leaving as losers. For the All Blacks it is a test after the fact, having already won the Tri Nations. For the Boks it is a test that represents more than rugby. It will define the rest of the year. You don’t have to be the brightest to know which of the two teams are suffering the hunger pains. [...]

The Boks on Saturday are going to beat up the All Blacks and win by seven to 10 points. But they will win knowing they’ve knocked over the second stringers, which means the real interest will be the following week when Henry will have to pick his best team to restore world order. [...]

My prediction: Boks 29 All Blacks 22

Sydney Morning Herald rugby correspondents Greg Growden and Ben Kimber video preview. Both columnists think it'll be a good game and reckon with the wholesale changes in the AB forward pack and with the team travelling from New Zealand to the high veldt, that all the factors are in South Africa's favour and that the Boks will come out fighting at home. Growden picks the Boks; Kimber takes the Blacks.

Some interesting articles about new All Black lock Greg Rawlinson returning home (South Africa) to face his compatriots for the first time here, here and here.

  • The Springboks vs. All Blacks test will be broadcast live online at Mediazone's Rugby Channel. Full live coverage kicks-off at 9:00 am ET Saturday morning, August 26. Tape-delay downloads are available 2-4 after test match ends. Cost is $7.99.

  • South Africa: 1 Os du Randt, 2 John Smit, 3 CJ van der Linde, 4 Johann Muller, 5 Victor Matfield, 6 Solly Tyibilika, 7 TBA, 8 Jacques Cronjé, 9 Fourie du Preez, 10 Butch James, 11 Bryan Habana, 12 Jean de Villiers, 13 Jaque Fourie, 14 Akona Ndungane, 15 Percy Montgomery. Replacements: 16 Chilliboy Ralepelle, 17 BJ Botha, 18 Albert van den Berg, 19 Pierre Spies/Pedrie Wannenburg, 20 Ruan Pienaar, 21 Wynand Olivier, 22 André Pretorius.

    New Zealand: 1 Neemia Tialata, 2 Anton Oliver, 3 Greg Somerville, 4 Greg Rawlinson, 5 Ali Williams, 6 Reuben Thorne, 7 Richie McCaw, 8 Chris Masoe, 9 Piri Weepu, 10 Daniel Carter, 11 Sitiveni Sivivatu, 12 Luke McAlister, 13 Mils Muliaina, 14 Rico Gear, 15 Leon MacDonald. Replacements: 16 Keven Mealamu, 17 Tony Woodcock, 18 Chris Jack, 19 Jerry Collins, 20 Jimmy Cowan, 21 Sam Tuitupou, 22 Isaia Toeava.

    Venue: Loftus Versfeld, Pretoria
    Date: Saturday, 26 August
    Kick-off: 15.00 SA (09.00 ET - 13.00 UTC)
    Referee: Alan Lewis (Ireland)
    Touch judges: Chris White (England), Hugh Watkins (Wales)
    Television match official: Eric Darrière (France)
    Assessor: Michel Lamoulie (France)


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