While the New Zealand All Blacks kick off their Tri-Nations campaign on the heels of a 64-14 thrashing over Pacific Island neighbor Fiji in a pre-tournament trial last weekend, South Africa will look to pick up the pieces of what’s left of an already exhausted side for their visit to Wellington in a Round 2 match on Saturday.
Date/Time: Saturday, July 30, at 3:35 A.M. EST
Venue: Westpac Stadium, Wellington, New Zealand
Springboks vs All Blacks Betting Odds:
Round 2 Tri Nations Rugby Betting Lines from Bet365.com
Springboks vs All Blacks Prediction:
Despite arriving in Australia without 21 players due to injury, the Springboks displayed admirable spirit and resilience against Australia last weekend, but short of a plethora of first-team regulars, never looked truly capable of walking away with a win.
In fact, the South Africans looked several yards off the pace for most of the match and were ineffective at breaking through an aggressive Wallabies’ defense. Chiliboy Ralepelle and beleaguered skipper John Smit notched late tries for the visitors in a 39-20 defeat, extending the Springboks winless streak in Sydney to 78 years.
Now Bok boss Peter de Villiers will face his toughest challenge of the 2011 Tri Nations Tournament–beating the Kiwis on their home soil.
He will look to fullback Patrick Lambie, who after coming off the bench against Australia, proved by his efforts that he is the genuine future of South African rugby, earning his first international start against the All Blacks on Saturday, along with blindside flanker Jean Deysel.
It will be interesting to see how they, along with rookie lock Gerhard Mostert, who was only drafted into the squad last Sunday as a replacement for the injured Johann Muller, fares in Wellington.
Meanwhile, all eyes will be on New Zealand fly-half Daniel Carter, who will become rugby’s record points scorer with just one successful strike on goal. After missing last week’s test against Fiji, Carter replaces Colin Slade in the line-up and will need just two points on Saturday to surpass Jonny Wilkinson’s record of 1,195 points.
The Crusaders ace has registered an impressive 221 international points against the Springboks, and will surely be in a good position to notch his place in the annals of rugby history, assisted by a trio of supercharged ruggers in Richie McCaw, Jerome Kaino and Adam Thomson. All who will be expected to be a force in this contest.
Surely, this will be a test of courage for a young inexperienced Springbok side whose predecessors has never beaten the All Blacks at Westpac Stadium, including losses in their past four visits.
South Africa are certain to produce a physical first quarter, and will most likely slip back into default mode to try to stay even in this match by playing their symbolic brand of stingy defense. But without a solid set-piece foundation to work off, and given the lack of inexperienced personnel, the Springboks look poised to struggle once again.
In the meantime, there is a gathering storm on the horizon in the All Blacks camp, and while they themselves are not at full strength, it is distinctly more experienced with 640 caps as opposed to 271 for South Africa, 103 of which rest with Smit.
Given the Boks greenness, this should be a resounding bonus-point home win for the Kiwis.
Matt’s Free Prediction: New Zealand 45-25 South Africa