Bring on the All Blacks
RUGBY CHAMPIONSHIP SPOTLIGHT: South African coach Rassie Erasmus hopes his gamble to send an advance party to New Zealand will bear fruit this week.
The Round Two encounter shapes up as a possible tournament decider after both the Boks and Kiwis won their opening matches at the weekend.
The winner of the Cake Tin contest will take a massive leap closer to the 2019 title, less than two months out from the World Cup.
South Africa opened their 2019 campaign by outscoring the Wallabies five tries to two in a 35-17, bonus-point, victory in Johannesburg at the weekend.
The All Blacks opened their Rugby Championship campaign with a hard-earned 20-16 victory against Argentina in Buenos Aires.
The game against New Zealand will be a rematch at the venue where South Africa scored a famous 36-34 victory against the All Blacks in 2018 – their first win on Kiwi soil since 2009.
The last time a South African team beat New Zealand back-to-back in Aotearoa was the Springboks class of 2008 (30-28 in Dunedin) and 2009 (32-29 victory in Hamilton).
Erasmus spoke of the importance of the occasion and the gamble of splitting his team – with 14 players and some members of the team management having headed over to New Zealand this past Thursday already.
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“We are playing the No.1 team in the world and that’s how big the Test is,” the coach said.
“That is the reason why we sent a few boys over early, so they can at least be fresh when we play – otherwise we won’t stand a chance.
“That is the reason we played some of the other guys in this game [against the Wallabies]. That is how important the game [in Wellington] is for us.
“We want to try and win the Test, first of all.
“The last three Test matches we played against New Zealand – at Newlands, it was a one-pointer [25-24 to New Zealand] and then we were lucky to beat them by two points [36-34] in Wellington. Then [in Pretoria] they beat us with two points [32-30].
“The last three Tests between New Zealand and South Africa there were six points in it.
“We are expecting a massive one, obviously. They’re playing at home and we know what that means.
“We’re playing at the same field we played last year. It was a massive Test.
“They’ll be waiting for us there.
“They only sent a few boys over to Argentina.
“They’ll have their best team as well.
“I think it’s one of those big ones.”
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