As the Rugby Championship draws to a close this weekend we analyse the two Test matches and pick the things to keep an eye on.
South Africa v New Zealand
South Africa used a conservative approach against Australia which they seemed far more comfortable employing. Their no frills strategy led to an eight-point victory over Australia and expect them to adopt the same style this weekend. After some stats analysis the chink in the All Black armour seems to be a high handling error count amongst their back three. South Africa will try and exploit this weakness by playing a tight game and kicking behind the New Zealand wingers to force them to back track rather than gain momentum running forward. This will allow South Africa to play in the All Black's half.
Which brings me to set-pieces. South Africa will try and create situations where the All Blacks make unforced errors so they can scrum. The Bok scrum has been consistently menacing for their opponents but New Zealand are no push-overs themselves, (excuse the pun) which will make this area of the game a titanic clash. The All Blacks have shown they can attack from pretty much anywhere but value their set-pieces for formulated attacks. The Springboks know this and will use their brute strength to stifle them.
Argentina v Australia
The attacking strategy of each side could be an interesting point of contention. The Australian back-room strategists decided to employ a far more central attacking formula against the Springboks compared to their usual wide game. The Wallabies would send a big carrier towards the South African 10 and 12 channel only to pop pass just before contact to break the Bok line. The plan worked on occasion but was not enough to crack the Bok defensive vault. After this failed attempt they will most likely go wide against Argentina and try to exhaust their fringe defenders.
This could lead to an interesting turn of events as Argentina are one of the best counter-attacking sides in world rugby. They thrive on chaos. Open play allows them far more opportunities than structured phases. The Argentines, esteemed breakdown competitors, and with the Wallabies going wide will be able to isolate Wallaby runners, turn the ball over and counter.
By Nicholas McGregor