Preview: South Africa v New Zealand

Date published: October 7 2016

South Africa will be out to try and stop the All Blacks from making history when the teams clash at Kings Park in Durban on Saturday.

They may have already clinched the Rugby Championship title but New Zealand still have plenty to play for when they face the Springboks at Kings Park. The All Blacks need one more victory to equal the record of 17 consecutive Test wins, a feat previously achieved by two previous All Blacks sides.

We keep on hearing how good this New Zealand team is and how they have got even better since last year's World Cup despite losing the likes of Dan Carter and Richie McCaw. Now is the time to show it.

South Africa will be desperate to finish the competition with some pride and prove to their detractors they are not as poor and far behind the All Blacks as they have been made out.

While New Zealand remain comfortable favourites to win this game and finish the tournament unbeaten, they know South Africa are always a more formidable side at home, especially with their backs against the wall. That is why it's unlikely they will underestimate the hosts esecially with that enviable Test record on the line.

Expect South Africa to follow a conservative approach in an effort to give themselves a chance of possibly winning the game, but this Bok team has too many shortcomings for that to be likely. They will, however, be eager to give a proper send-off to captain Adriaan Strauss who will be playing his final Test in South Africa before retiring at the end of the year.

It won't be easy though as New Zealand will look to exploit the Boks' poor tactical kicking and their vulnerability on defence, especially in the wide channels. It's an area the Boks would have worked on since their 41-13 drubbing in Christchurch in an effort to avoid a similar result.

While the Boks should be a more competitive outfit in front of their home crowd, they don't possess the necessary attacking play to upset the All Blacks. Morne Steyn should have another busy afternoon as his kicking boot will again prove vital in South Africa's attempt to upset the World Champions.

Players to watch:

For South Africa: Inside centre Damian de Allende has not exactly set the field alight this year and Coetzee has already shown he is willing to drop the Stormers battering ram. He returns to the starting XV thanks to the injury to Jesse Kriel but he may have been an option for selection anyway. With the surface in Durban expected to be heavy, the extra hitting power De Allende brings in terms of bashing over the gainline will be useful while Juan de Jongh can use his fancy feet in the great space afforded to him as he shifts to outside centre. However, his defensive work will be in the spotlight as the All Blacks are likely to target his channel. 

For New Zealand: The depth of the All Blacks resources is perfectly illustrated in the form of Anton Lienert-Brown, who has taken to Test rugby like a duck to water. The 21-year-old has been rewarded with another start after a try-scoring display in Buenos Aires, where his ability to offload after contact caused all sorts of problems and led to three try assists. He is solid as a rock defensively too. Another strong performance in Durban and he may jump to the top of the Kiwi hierarchy at 13.

Head-to-head: Faf de Klerk finds himself back in the Springbok starting XV thanks to the concussion Rudy Paige picked up in the Test against Australia. De Klerk has been good this season but his form has dipped slightly as the season has progressed and while he remains a good player his shortcomings at Test level was exposed by the All Blacks in Christchurch. De Klerk will come up against TJ Perenara, who replaces the suspended Aaron Smith, in what should be a good battle between the number nines. Perenara showed against Argentina he is more than capable of standing in for the impressive Smith so New Zealand won't be worse off due to his inclusion. All eyes will be on the tactical kicking of the two scrum-halves and it is here where De Klerk might be overshadowed by his more fancied opponent.

Team news: South Africa have made two injury-enforced personnel changes. Faf de Klerk comes in at scrum-half in place of Rudy Paige while Damian de Allende replaces Jesse Kriel in midfield, shifting Juan de Jongh from 12 to 13. Wings Bryan Habana and Francois Hougaard swap jerseys. New Zealand recalled a handful of big guns as lock Sam Whitelock moves from the bench to the starting second row, replacing Patrick Tuipulotu; loose forward Jerome Kaino is back on the flank, with Liam Squire moving to the replacements while Matt Todd takes over the seven jersey from Ardie Savea, who also drops to the bench when he is joined by Charlie Faumuina. In the backs, wing Waisake Naholo returns to the matchday 23 replacing Julian Savea. George Moala comes in for Damian McKenzie on the bench.

Previous results:

2016: New Zealand won 41-13 in Christchurch
2015: New Zealand won 20-18 in London (RWC semi-final)
2015: New Zealand won 27-20 in Johannesburg
2014: South Africa won 27-25 in Johannesburg
2014: New Zealand won 14-10 in Wellington
2013: New Zealand won 38-27 in Johannesburg
2013: New Zealand won 29-15 in Auckland
2012: New Zealand won 32-16 in Johannesburg
2012: New Zealand won 21-11 in Dunedin
2011: South Africa won 18-5 in Port Elizabeth
2011: New Zealand won 40-7 in Wellington

Prediction: The All Blacks are in a different league to anyone else in the world but the Springboks always lift themselves for a Test against the their old foes, especially at home. The more conservative approach that bore fruit in Pretoria will keep them in touch, but will ultimately leave them short on the scoreboard. New Zealand by 12-15 points.

The teams:

South Africa: 15 Patrick Lambie, 14 Francois Hougaard, 13 Juan de Jongh, 12 Damian de Allende, 11 Bryan Habana, 10 Morne Steyn, 9 Faf de Klerk, 8 Warren Whiteley, 7 Teboho Mohoje, 6 Francois Louw, 5 Pieter-Steph du Toit, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Vincent Koch, 2 Adriaan Strauss (c), 1 Tendai Mtawarira
Replacements: 16 Bongi Mbonambi, 17 Stephen Kitshoff, 18 Julian Redelinghuys, 19 Lood de Jager, 20 Willem Alberts, 21 Jaco Kriel, 22 Lionel Mapoe, 23 Willie le Roux

New Zealand: 15 Ben Smith, 14 Israel Dagg, 13 Anton Lienert-Brown, 12 Ryan Crotty, 11 Waisake Naholo, 10 Beauden Barrett, 9 TJ Perenara, 8 Kieran Read (c), 7 Matt Todd, 6 Jerome Kaino, 5 Samuel Whitelock, 4 Brodie Retallick, 3 Owen Franks, 2 Dane Coles, 1 Joe Moody
Replacements: 16 Codie Taylor, 17 Wyatt Crockett, 18 Charlie Faumuina, 19 Liam Squire, 20 Ardie Savea, 21 Tawera Kerr-Barlow, 22 Lima Sopoaga, 23 George Moala

Date: Saturday, October 8
Venue: Kings Park, Durban
Kick-off: 17:05 local (15:05 GMT)
Referee: Jérôme Garcès (France)
Assistant Referees: Johnny Lacey (Ireland), George Clancy (Ireland)
TMO: Jim Yuille (Scotland)