After a week off the four teams head into round 3 of the Rugby Championship this weekend. Matches are as follows, both on Saturday 8th September
08.35am New Zealand v Argentina in Nelson
Beauden Barrett scored a remarkable four tries as New Zealand secured another Bledisloe Cup following a 40-12 triumph over Australia at Eden Park. Akin to the week before, it was a mistake-ridden first half but two pieces of quality saw the All Blacks go into the break 14-7 ahead thanks to a brace of Barrett tries.
Will Genia had levelled matters for the Wallabies but they fell away in the early stages of the final 40 metres when Joe Moody and Liam Squire touched down in quick succession.
Although Reece Hodge crossed the whitewash to reduce the arrears to 16 points, successive Barrett efforts eased the hosts clear as they claimed a second victory over their trans-Tasman rivals in 2018.
In Mendoza Nicholas Sanchez produced a marvellous display to guide Argentina to a 32-19 win over South Africa in Mendoza on Saturday. The home side were full value for their win as they dominated for large periods and eventually outscored the Springboks by four tries to three.
The win ended an 11-match losing streak in the Rugby Championship as Sanchez starred for the Pumas, scoring 17 points in the first half as they built a 27-7 half-time lead. South Africa, who triumphed 34-21 when the teams met in Durban last weekend, dominated the second half but could only outscore Argentina by two tries to one.
The hosts’ forwards deserve plenty of credit for matching the Boks’ physicality and this allowed their backs to play with freedom and Sanchez to dictate proceedings.
Of course New Zealand are prohibitive favourites for the match at -27 at 10/11, 20/1 underdogs and tentatively I will take Argentina +27 at 10/11 with William Hill
11.05am Australia v South Africa in Brisbane
After the big loss to New Zealand for a second week in successions, further questions have been asked of Wallaby boss Michael Cheika in a defeat which resembled the previous match between the two. Chieka now only has a 50% win record as national coach
After last week’s horror show in Sydney, Australia were much improved at the coalface in the second Bledisloe Cup game as they had some dominance at the scrum in the first-half. The return of loosehead Scott Sio and Allan Alaalatoa’s performance at tighthead deserves praise while the line-out was also more reliable than seven days ago. With parity up front you at least give yourself half a chance against New Zealand and for two weeks running they were well in contention for half an hour until New Zealand upped their game either side of half time.
South Africa, who triumphed 34-21 when they met Argentina the weekend before, dominated the second half in Mendoza but could only outscore Argentina by two tries to oneand lost 32-19.
Apart from a brief period during the first half, when they held the upper-hand, the Springboks found the going tough and they seemed shell-shocked by the intensity with which Argentina approached this match.
This is an opportunity for Australia at a venue where they traditionally do well. They shouldn’t be as vulnerable defensively against South Africa, and should have parity up front
Under their new coach South Africa showed a lot of ambition in the summer series but consistency is still a problem, typical of developing sides.
Here Australia are 5 point favourites at 10/11 on the handicap and 15/8 to win by 1-12 points in the winning margin market which is my preferred bet with Ladbrokes.