Boks look to spoil All Blacks' party
October 4, 2012
Bryan Habana gets to grips with Tony Woodcock © Getty Images
South Africa will look to end their Rugby Championship campaign on a winning note against recently-crowned champions New Zealand in Soweto on Saturday.
New Zealand are five from five heading into their latest match with the Springboks and breezed through a potentially difficult clash with the Pumas last weekend where they downed Argentina in La Plata 54-14. The result meant that their lead at the top of the Rugby Championship tree was unassailable capping a remarkable 12 months that also saw them lift the Webb Ellis Cup last October.
The Boks have had a mixed campaign with defeats to the All Blacks and Australia sitting alongside wins over Argentina and most notably the Wallabies in their most recent outing. Heyneke Meyer's side were in imperious form and produced arguably their best performance of the season with former IRB Player of the Year Bryan Habana bagging a hat-trick. And come Saturday, it will be their second trip to Soccer City in Soweto and they will hope for a different outcome after facing the All Blacks there back in 2010 and losing 29-22.
They received a huge blow this week with the news that Frans Steyn will miss the rest of the competition and their November tour to Europe due to injury, but they will fancy their chances of finishing their campaign on a high.
South Africa - Player to Watch: Bryan Habana was superb against Australia last weekend. He scored a hat-trick and caused the Wallabies constant difficulties with his darting runs from deep. Against the All Blacks he will hope to make a similar dent in their formidable defence.
South Africa - Team News: Boks coach Heyneke Meyer has kept the faith with the same XV that beat the All Blacks last weekend. The only change comes on the bench with Coonie Oosthuizen replacing Pat Cilliers.
New Zealand - Player to Watch: Cory Jane, like his South African counterpart Habana, scored a hat-trick last weekend and on the hardened South African turf, he will hope to cause some more havoc.
New Zealand - Team News: Despite Julian Savea scoring twice for the All Blacks last weekend, he has not been named in the 23-man squad for the match with the Springboks. Hosea Gear takes his place and the other change to the starting XV sees Brodie Retallick coming in for Luke Romano. On the replacements bench Ben Franks, Adam Thomson and Tamati Ellison replace Charlie Faumuina, Sam Cane and Ben Smith.
Key Battle: It is master against the apprentice at fly-half. The world's best No.10 Dan Carter will come face-to-face with Johan Goosen - a man with just one Test start to his name - and while Goosen shone for the Boks last weekend, coming up against Carter will be an even bigger test.
Stats: The All Blacks squad currently has six of the most capped All Blacks in history by position: Tony Woodcock (prop), Keven Mealamu (hooker), Richie McCaw (flanker), Daniel Carter (fly-half), Ma'a Nonu (inside centre) and Conrad Smith (outside centre).
"Last week's win was very satisfying, but we all know we will have to make another step up against New Zealand on Saturday. They recorded a good win in Argentina and will be confident, but so are we." - Springboks coach Heyneke Meyer
"We are in no doubt how big the challenge is for the team this weekend but it is one we are looking forward to as it will be a real test of our resolve and character." - New Zealand coach Steve Hansen
Prediction: The All Blacks will finish the Rugby Championship with six wins from six
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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