DUNEDIN, NZ – Welcome to Dunedin! Named after the Scottish city of Dunedin, this version has becom far more popular and will host half of Round 4 of The Rugby Championship. The other half will take place in Perth…
Anyway, the All Blacks are here at Forysth Barr Stadium, hosting the Springboks and their under-fire coach, Heyneke Meyer. Side note: This is the swankiest, fanciest new rugby stadium in SANZAR – and possibly the world. And that includes Nelson Mandela Bay in South Africa. But enough of that, let’s review the standings, the teams and get to my always-accurate analysis.
The Rugby Championship Leader Board after 3 Rounds:
Pos Team P W D L F A PD B Pts
1. New Zealand 3 3 0 0 70 24 46 0 12
2. South Africa 3 1 1 1 62 48 14 1 7
3. Australia 3 1 0 2 45 68 -23 0 4
4. Argentina 3 0 1 2 27 64 -37 0 2
The first match on Saturday will be between the 1st place All Blacks and the 2nd place Springboks.
Head Coach: Steve Hansen
Captain: Richie McCaw
15 Israel Dagg, 14 Cory Jane, 13 Conrad Smith, 12 Ma’a Nonu, 11 Julian Savea, 10 Aaron Cruden, 9 Piri Weepu, 8 Kieran Read, 7 Richie McCaw (c), 6 Liam Messam, 5 Sam Whitelock, 4 Luke Romano, 3 Owen Franks, 2 Andrew Hore, 1 Tony Woodcock
16 Keven Mealamu, 17 Charlie Faumuina, 18 Brodie Retallick, 19 Victor Vito, 20 Aaron Smith, 21 Beauden Barrett, 22 Tamati Ellison
Head Coach: Heyneke Meyer
Captain: Jean De Villiers
15 Zane Kirchner, 14 Bryan Habana, 13 Jean de Villiers (c), 12 Frans Steyn, 11 Francois Hougaard, 10 Morne Steyn, 9 Ruan Pienaar, 8 Duane Vermeulen, 7 Willem Alberts, 6 Francois Louw, 5 Juandre Kruger, 4 Flip van der Merwe, 3 Jannie du Plessis, 2 Adriaan Strauss, 1 Tendai “Beast” Mtawarira.
16 Tiaan Liebenberg, 17 Dean Greyling, 18 Andries Bekker, 19 Marcell Coetzee, 20 Johan Goosen, 21 Juan de Jongh, 22 Pat Lambie.
Date: Saturday, September 15
Kick-off: 19:35 (08:35 BST, 07:35 GMT)
Venue: Forsyth Barr Stadium, Dunedin
Referee: George Clancy (IRE)
Assistant referees: Romain Poite (France) James Leckie (ARU)
Television match official: Vincet Munro (NZRU)
Analysis: Piri Weepu gets his first start for The Blackness since the RWC 2011 Final. Piri has proven to be one of those players, that regardless of his club form, turns it up a notch when he plays for the All Blacks. NZ are still testing players and the coaching team – aka “The Zoo” – are trying to keep players motivated by making subtle, yet not over-reaching, changes. Meanwhile, beleaguered Boks coach Heyneke Meyer is making changes in his second row due to suspension. He is also altering his bench due to injury. The Springboks rarely win in NZ and with new players getting their first chance to start, it looks like another steam-rolling by the Kiwis. This is especially true if the Boks don’t get back to a ball-in-hand attack. The kick-and-chase can only get you so far against a team that can ram it down your gizzard.
The second match on Saturday will be between the 2nd place Springboks and the last place Wallabies.
Head Coach: Santiago Phelan
Captain: Juan Fernandez Lobbe
15 Lucas Gonzalez Amorosino, 14 Gonzalo Camacho, 13 Marcelo Bosch, 12 Santiago Fernandez, 11 Horacio Agulla, 10 Juan Martin Hernandez, 9 Martin Landajo, 8 Juan Martin Fernandez Lobbe (c), 7 Juan Manuel Leguizamon,6 Julio Faras Cabello, 5 Patricio Albacete,4 Manuel Carizza, 3 Juan Figallo, 2 Eusebio Guinazu, 1 Rodrigo Roncero.
16 Agustin Creevy, 17 Juan Pablo Orlandi, 18 Leonardo Senatore, 19 Toms Leonardi, 20 Nicolas Vergallo, 21 Martin Rodriguez, 22 Juan Imhoff.
Head Coach: Robbie Deans
Captain: Nathan Sharpe
15 Berrick Barnes, 14 Dom Shipperley, 13 Adam Ashley-Cooper, 12 Pat McCabe, 11 Digby Ioane, 10 Quade Cooper, 9 Nick Phipps, 8 Radike Samo, 7 Michael Hooper, 6 Dave Dennis, 5 Nathan Sharpe (c), 4 Kane Douglas, 3 Ben Alexander, 2 Tatafu Polota Nau, 1 Benn Robinson.
16 Stephen Moore/Saia Fainga’a, 17 James Slipper, 18 Scott Higginbotham, 19 Liam Gill, 20 Brett Sheehan, 21 Anthony Fainga’a, 22 Kurtley Beale.
Date: Saturday, September 8
Venue: Patersons Stadium, Perth
Kick-off: 18.35 (10.35 GMT)
Referee: Wayne Barnes (Eng)
Assistant Referees: Nigel Owens (Wales) Glen Jackson (NZRU)
TMO:Matthew Goddard (ARU)
Analysis: The Pumas have made a change at scrum-half, with Martin Landajo coming in to try and provide faster service to a backline still looking to click. They are still missing my favorite Puma, Bustos Moyano, but the Argies have a chance with the grunt they have upfront and the lack of Aussie depth. The Aussie injury list continues; Will Genia going out for the season with a knee injury. The Captain’s Curse makes that the 3rd Aussie captain this season. Nathan Sharpe is now the captain. Poor slob. Anyway, the Wallabies have shuffled the deck and Pat McCabe returns from injury. The home field advantage will let the Aussies nick this one by 3 or so, but they will barely escape. Robbie Deans lives another day.
That is it for me for now, please feel free to comment below, look for and “Like” our Facebook Rugby Wrap Up Page and follow us on Twitter @RugbyWrapUp, @JunoirBlaber, @Declan Yeats and @Mathew Drew Turner, respectively.
And as always, stay low and keep pumping those legs.