Games this weekend are as follows:
New Zealand v South Africa, Albany 7.35pm local
South Africa played out a hard fought 23 all draw against Australia in Perth recovering from a ten point deficit in the second half
Australia were leading 20-10 after Tatafu Polota-Nau dived over from the back of a rolling maul, but South Africa managed to regain the lead late in the piece thanks to the reliable boot of No.10 Elton Jantjies. With scores level and after the full-time siren, Jantjies had a drop goal charged down that would have won the visitors the match.
The result means South Africa remain unbeaten in six Tests this year, but they sit three points behind world champions New Zealand, who they meet next in the championship.
New Zealand came from behind to beat Argentina and maintain their 100% record in the Rugby Championship. The victory puts the All Blacks top of the table.
The All Blacks trailed 16-15 at half-time Pumas led 22-15 on 50mins but recovered to seal a 39-22 win at Yarrow Park in New Plymouth. Rookie flanker Vaea Fifita’s try, while the home side were down to 14 men after Beauden Barrett had been sin-binned, brought the scores level at 22-22.
Until then, the Pumas were heading for a major upset and their first win over New Zealand in 25 attempts.
Understandably New Zealand are prohibitive outright favourites here, despite the loss through injury of cornerstone props Joe Moody (dislocated shoulder) and Owen Franks (Achilles tendon surgery). Best prices are New Zealand 1/8 and South Africa 7/1. South Africa can be backed at +17 points at Evens with Bet365, 10/11 generally on the points handicap which is tempting for a fast improving side albeit still some way off the standard set by the best in the world here.
Australia v Argentina, Canberra 8.00pm local
The Wallabies left Perth with a hollow feeling after they squandered a 10-point lead to finish with a 23-all draw against the Springboks in their Rugby Championship clash last weekend a result which leaves the Wallabies winless after three matches in the Rugby Championship.
Australia’s scrum still had major problems, even with a tweaked front row featuring old timers Polota-Nau and Sekope Kepu. This prevented them from gaining a stranglehold in the second half and it struggled to establish dominance all evening
Argentina, who joined the competition in 2012, lie bottom of the table of four nations, without a point so far. New Zealand coach Steve Hansen believes Argentina’s “horrific schedule” is impacting on their performances and results. The Pumas have been on a downward curve since reaching the Rugby World Cup semi-finals in 2015, winning just five of their 18 Tests.
Argentina are currently only permitted to select players from their Super Rugby side, Los Jaguares, who again struggled for consistency this season as they won seven and lost eight of their 15 fixtures. The demands of travelling is taking its toll, as is preventing Pumas head coach Daniel Hourcade from selecting Europe-based players like Facundo Isa and Juan Imhoff.
The All Blacks trailed 16-15 at half-time and Pumas led 22-15 on 50mins but lost 39-22 at Yarrow Park in New Plymouth.
For a while the Pumas were heading for a major upset and their first win over New Zealand in 25 attempts. The Argentinian strength in the pack and scrum in particular and the Australian problems there will give the visitors encouragement here
Odds here are Australia 1/6 Argentina 9/2, and + 13 on the points handicap at evens with bet365 and 10/11 generally. I am again tempted by the underdog on the handicap or alternatively Australia to win but by less than the market handicap by 1-12 points at 12/5 with Ladbrokes