After wins last weekend for New Zealand and South Africa, games in the second weekend of the Championship are as follows:
New Zealand v Australia, Dunedin 8.35am
New Zealand led Australia in Sydney by 40-6 at half time and eventually ran in eight tries in a 54-34 win
The match set a new record for points against Australia in a game which produced the second highest combined number of points, 88, in a Tri Nations/Rugby Championship Test. All Blacks Winger Rieko Ioane and centre Ryan Crotty both collected two tries.
New Zealand were outscored in the second half, something that only happened five ties in 68 games from 2012-2016. They have now lost the second half in three consecutive matches. The last time that happened was 1996.
All Blacks coach Steve Hansen praised the team’s performance in the first 50 minutes as “pretty special,” but they were then “seduced by the scoreboard” and ignored the fundamentals of the game
“The first 50 minutes was probably as good as rugby as you’ll see and the last 30 was probably the ugliest,” Hansen said.
Wallabies coach Michael Cheika lamented his team’s woeful defence. “It was pretty plain to see that our defence wasn’t good enough,” Cheika said.
Former Australia great Michael Lynagh, analyzing for television, said afterwards
“I can’t overestimate how angry I am at seeing an Australian team who have skills that are non-existent.”
The teams now move to Dunedin on New Zealand’s south island for the second game of their championships
A measure of how one sided this is expected to be is that Australia are 16/1 underdogs and + 27 points on the handicap (10/11), up from +15 a week ago
Australia have talented players, albeit in a transitional phase introducing new caps to the team but they seem shorn of direction and a consistent approach, particularly in defence which was shambolic last weekend. Can that change in a week? They will no doubt be tighter but it is difficult to see the general scale of defeat changing.
My idea of a bet here is in the “winning margin” market. New Zealand to win by 21-30 points in 11/4 with Betfair Sportsbook.
Argentina v South Africa, Buenos Aires 6.30pm
The two teams played last weekend in Port Elizabeth, South Africa winning 37-15. The Springboks had a healthy 23-8 lead with half an hour to go but the Pumas gave them a bit of a scare bringing it back to an eight-point game. However, the Springbok substitutes made a big impact in the last quarter of the game and ensured a comfortable victory.
It means the Springboks exacted revenge for the 26-24 defeat in Salta in the second round of Rugby Championship 2016, the last time the sides met.
It was not the free-flowing game we saw earlier in the day between the Australasian rivals as frequent handling errors and indiscretions made it a stop-start affair. Crucial to the South African success was their dominance of the scrum and breakdown.
This will be the Springboks first game away from home this yearand it will test the extent of their revival. Argentina are a tougher proposition with home advantage and for the visitors the crucial Cronje/Jantjes half back partnership has to be broken with Cronje injured.
The last time Argentina played at home was two months ago when they lost both games to England (minus their British Lions players) 25-35 and 34-38
Outright odds here are South Africa 4/11, Argentina 11/5 and + 7 on the handicap at 10/11. It should be closer than last weekend, but I still expect South Africa to win.
Betfair Sportsbook offer 13/5 about an 1-12 point victory by South Africa in this match