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Rugga Champs Watch – Round 6

It’s the final curtain call for this year’s Castle Lager Rugby Championship and even though the All Blacks have clinched this coveted trophy for the 6th time in 7 years, there is still a matter of unfinished business for the men from New Zealand when they face the Springboks in Pretoria.

Argentina and Australia also have a battle of their own as they both are fighting to avoid the wooden spoon amongst other things.

Saturday 6 October 2018 – Springboks v All Blacks, Loftus Versfeld 17h05*

Will it be sweet revenge for the All Blacks or can the Springboks show the everyone they have turned the corner that so many across the world have been hoping for?

This is what it is all about this weekend when South Africa welcome Steve Hansen and his men to “Fortress Loftus” in Pretoria.

When speaking to people these last few days about what is to be expected, it has been a proper bag of mixed emotions. So to make a definite call on this match won’t be the easiest thing to do as there are so many factors to consider and we will look at just a few.

History, the weather and recent form are some of the notables we have been looking at and these 3 elements to us are going to play huge roles on Saturday when these two teams run out on to Loftus for the 6th time in this rivalry’s history.

Having only faced each other on 5 occasions at this venue the stats don’t read well for Rassie Erasmus and his men with the Kiwis winning 4 out of 5. The last time the Boks tasted victory against the All Blacks in Pretoria was back in 1970 when they played their first match at Loftus against one another.

The scores since their first meeting at Loftus read as follow (SA v NZL):

17 – 6 25 July 1970

26 – 33 24 August 1996

18 – 34 7 August 1999

16 – 52 19 July 2003

26 – 45 26 August 2006

A few weeks ago many pundits were looking at the weather as a weapon for the Springboks as summer has almost arrived 2 months early in South Africa and Pretoria is known to raise the mercury very high, something the New Zealanders are too used to. However on Monday the Gauteng Weather Service announced more favourable conditions that will suit the Kiwis for the weekend.

We have since had a look at Saturday’s forecast and it seems like the weather gods might be rooting for the Springboks with a projected 29° although another 6° extra would have been better.

Lastly, recent form is something we felt was another important element to consider as both teams have showed signs of good and worrying signs in form of late.

The Springboks put in a mammoth performance in Wellington a few weeks ago and last week showed a much more improved effort against a beleaguered Wallaby outfit. We did however feel that the Boks would have to improve vastly if they were going to stop this black juggernaut as many opportunities were left out on the field in Port Elizabeth.

The All Blacks are known to cause serious damage once they have tasted defeat and their only focus since Wellington has been to redeem themselves in Pretoria. They even rested some of their key players against Argentina to make sure they have their strongest unit run out on to Loftus this weekend.

Even though they beat Los Pumas comfortably in Buenos Aires a week ago they would have felt there plenty for them to work on this week before kickoff time on Saturday.

We can ramble on and on about many things but ultimately it all comes down to what happens on Saturday.

Will the Springboks be even hungrier than Wellington or will the All Blacks bring that famous backlash of theirs to the party yet again?

PREDICTION: All Blacks by 17

Sunday 7 October 2018 – Argentina v Australia, Estadio Padre Ernesto Martearena 00h40*

As mentioned earlier this game will be a fight to avoid the proverbial wooden spoon and for some even their jobs are on the line possibly.

Yes, Michael Cheika could possibly be in charge of his last match of the Wallabies as his team prepares to face Mario Ledesma’s rising Los Pumas.

The Aussies have only a single victory to their name in this year’s competition having lost twice against the All Blacks, once against Argentina and also once against South Africa with only the win over the latter back in Brisbane.

Los Pumas did not have a great day at the office a week ago when they lost at home against the All Blacks and would want to give their supporters one last hoorah before their season comes to an end and what a great opportunity this is for them to do so.

Can the Wallabies pull something out the hat or will Ledesma’s Los Pumas continue their rosy season against the Australians?

PREDICTION: Argentina 9

Feel free to leave your thoughts and predictions below in our comments section and join our chats on Twitter using #RuggaChamps

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