The SA Rugby magazine team predicts the outcome of the highly anticipated 100th Test between the Springboks and All Blacks.
CRAIG LEWIS (Editor)
I simply can’t see the Springboks producing a third successive sub-par performance. There is no doubt that a physically and mentally taxing British & Irish Lions series has taken its toll on the South African players, while life in a “bubble” has clearly been equally draining.
However, the All Blacks tend to bring out the best in the Boks, let alone when they have their backs against the wall. The Springboks will also have no shortage of motivation for this historic centenary Test, and I suspect it will be a lot closer than many people think.
The key for the Boks will be to start well, and deprive the All Blacks of possession, but my feeling is that the Kiwis will just edge it in the final quarter.
Prediction: All Blacks by 5
DYLAN JACK (Staff writer)
The Springboks are coming into this match on the back of two losses against Australia, the second of those the result of a very poor performance. The team looks mentally drained after spending 10 weeks inside their bio-bubble. With that said, it’s hard to see them putting in a third poor performance.
Despite their attempts to downplay the occasion publicly, the Springboks will be very aware of the meaning and history behind the 100th Test match and could draw on that for motivation. The changes made to the matchday-23 point to that they have learned from the mistakes that were made against the Wallabies and are going into this weekend with a much better balance to their back row and bench.
The Boks will go toe-to-toe with the All Blacks for the first 60 minutes, but it will be those last 20 that will really count. The New Zealand have tended to run their opponents ragged during that period, but looked a bit shoddy themselves in the last quarter last weekend against Argentina. My feeling is that the Boks might just be able to bounce back with an intensely physical performance.
Prediction: Springboks by 4
ZELIM NEL (Deputy editor)
What a fairy tale it would be if the Boks backed up their world title and series-victory against the British & Irish Lions by beating the top-ranked All Blacks in the momentous 100th Test between the two nations!
It’s certainly not impossible but it is unlikely, and that’s got nothing to do with anemic performances in successive losses against the Wallabies. Since rugby turned pro, South Africa has won 15 of 57 Tests against New Zealand for a 26% win rate which drops to 17% outside the Republic where the Boks have won five of 29 Tests (including one of four at neutral venues).
The world champions will indeed be better this week as they embrace the underdogs tag and clinch and in-fight the All Blacks in an engrossing bout. But they will miss Beast Mtawarira, Pieter-Steph du Toit and Cheslin Kolbe more than the All Blacks miss Aaron Smith, Richie Mo’unga and Sam Whitelock, and their gutsy effort will come up just short on the scoreboard.
Prediction: All Blacks by 5
MARIETTE ADAMS (Senior writer)
The Springboks have come under a heavy critism. Some of it fair, some not so fair. But that comes with the territory when you are a top pro-sports team and in this case world champions to boot.
One thing we can all agree on is the misguided believe “that four or five players in that team are simply are not up to Test level”, is utter rubbish.
Yes, individual performances weren’t up to scratch in the two matches against the Wallabies, but a couple of sub-par outings do not automatically make a player average.
That being said, South Africa thrive on emotion and not expectation. They were expected to upend Australia and withered under that pressure.
The tables are turned now. There’s no expectation on the Boks to down the All Blacks. In fact, the majority of the rugby fraternity reckon South Africa won’t get close being competitive and that will be motivation enough for the world champions to up their game and fight fire with fire.
There’s no Pieter-Steph du Toit, Cheslin Kolbe or RG Snyman for South Africa, but similarly the All Blacks will be without Aaron Smith, Sam Whitelock, Sam Cane, Richie Mo’unga and Dane Coles and on that balance the Boks will fancy their chances even if no one else does.
I, for one, think it will be a close contest and depending on whether the Boks can keep in touch in the last 20 minutes, they will nick a favorable result at the death.
Prediction: Boks by 2.
ANDRE-PIERRE CRONJE (Contributing writer)
Two weeks is a long time in sport. Just over a fortnight ago many would have been bold enough to state that the Springboks would be favourites in this historic test against the old foe; today it seems nobody is giving them a chance.
As a rule, no team is ever quite as good or as bad as people would have you believe and so it’s difficult to assess the objective quality of this Springbok side. For my mind they are a teaming in transition – confident in their core strengths but still looking to take their game to the next level. Against Australia they came unstuck in spectacular fashion but we should expect the Boks to revert to type against New Zealand.
Emotions will be running high in the Springbok camp and the players will be desperate to prove the doubters wrong. Add to that the enormity of the occasion and we can be assured the Boks will be well up for this one. Test matches, however, are rarely won on emotion and if the Boks are to stand any chance they’ll need their senior players to come to the party. I think they will.
Prediction: Springboks by 3