Rugby Championship: No stopping the All Blacks now

The All Blacks face South Africa on Saturday

Geoffrey Riddle previews the Rugby Championship clash between New Zealand and South Africa and believes it will be a comfortable victory for the All Blacks...

"In addition to this, their defence has been excellent all year, having conceded only four tries in their six matches in 2012 and the handicap of 14.5 may not be enough."

Back New Zealand -14.5 - 1pt

The Stats:

- Richie McCaw wins his 20th Test cap against the Springboks this weekend, having been on the winning side in 14 of the 19 Tests against them
- New Zealand's last loss at home to the Springboks came in September 2009, when they were beaten 32-29 in Hamilton.
- That defeat remains the last time the All Blacks lost at home and they have gone on to record 22 consecutive home victories since.
- The Springboks have beaten the All Blacks in Dunedin just once in nine matches. That victory came in 2008 when they edged out New Zealand 30-28 at Carisbrook.
- New Zealand have scored an average of 30 points in their last five fixtures, conceding on average just nine points.
- South Africa's back row remain the most inexperienced in The Rugby Championship, with just 26 caps between them.

The Match

The frustration at South Africa's loss to Australia last week was obvious when Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer almost smashed a walkie-talkie during the 26-19 defeat in Perth.

The fifth straight beating at the hands of the Wallabies all but ended South Africa's hopes of winning the inaugural Rugby Championship and New Zealand will virtually seal their coronation on Saturday with a win in Dunedin.

At the start of the tournament I suggested that the 1.564/7 available about the All Blacks was tradeable at the very least and with New Zealand now available to lay at 1.081/12 you would have made a tidy profit had you dipped your toes in the water. Trading out now would be folly, however, as another All Black victory looks on the cards as Meyer's troops limp over the Tasman Sea.

The roof will be shut in the Forsyth Barr Stadium, which was used in the Rugby World Cup although neither team has played in the stadium previously. It is a good thing that the pitch will be covered, however, as Dunedin has been lashed by foul weather all week.

Both teams expect there to be pace on the ball, which suits only New Zealand despite the continued absence of Dan Carter to injury.

Despite Argentina's heroic effort last week by losing only 21-5, New Zealand still reigned at the breakdown through Richie McCaw and South Africa have enlisted the specialist openside flanker Francois Louw in place of Marcell Coetzee. It seems a harsh decision on Coetzee, who has worked his guts out for much of the season and Louw played no part in Meyer's plans for the three-Test series against England and the first two Rugby Championship matches against Argentina. Neither have a hope in hell of preventing McCaw from pilfering ball with his back-row buddies Kieran Read and Liam Messam anyway so Meyer may as well keep Coetzee on.

They will need to somehow stop McCaw and Co because if the All Blacks manage to generate enough turnover ball early on it really could be curtains for the visitors.

Last week South Africa led the Wallabies 13-6 at half-time but capitulated after the break which forced some media commentators in South Africa to question the fitness levels of their team. Although South Africa have scored 76 points in the first half of their matches this season to only 58 in the second half I think it is a simplistic argument and is not borne out through other statistical analysis.

While South Africa may not lack for fitness, a more appropriate reason as to why they failed to cling on to a healthy lead last week is that they are simply jaded. Jean de Villiers, the captain, and left wing Francois Hougaard have gone on record to say they are feeling the effects of a long season. When your leader openly says that just days before a match against the world's No. 1 side it certainly doesn't say much for team spirit within the camp.

Whatever the reason the Springboks failed in the second half last week, the fact remains that New Zealand have averaged 16.66 points in the second half this season and are likely to pile on the points in the final quarter.

In addition to this, their defence has been excellent all year, having conceded only four tries in their six matches in 2012 and the handicap of 14.5 may not be enough.

Recommended Bet:

1pt Back New Zealand -14.5

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