This weekend sees the two powerhouse nations of South Africa and New Zealand once again clash, only this time it’s for the big prize. Further, it’s in South Africa. If we can get a referee who’s not a bloody moron this promises to be a clash of the year game with two teams who have everything to play for.
All eyes will be on Bismark du Plessis after his last farcical encounter with the men in black. Springbok fans will still be harbouring a lot of resentment towards Liam Messam – despite the fact it was Messam who copped the elbow in the throat. And Romain Poite’s idiotic refereeing that cost the Boks their star player – I’m expecting he will be about as well received there as Quade Cooper is here. Or A-Rod is…pretty much anywhere.
When this series commenced I was hesitant about how the All Blacks would fare with injury woes and players dropping like flies. How we seem to have done is simply spectacular. Messam succumbs to injury prior t the series, so up steps Stephen Luatua, who started incredibly well. Then he just got better and better. The legendary Dan Carter is out, so ups steps Aaron Cruden who plays out of his boots. To the point HE injures himself. So here comes Colin Slade. Who in turn gets injured after an amazing game. Now at this point most teams would panic. Coach Steve Hansen calmly just gives a nod to rookie Tom Taylor who promptly returns Hansen’s trust by playing like an absolute demon, kicking one of the best games of rugby I’ve seen in some time, and making a whole nation of black jersey wearing fans sit up and take notice. It’s just been a case of it doesn’t matter what has been thrown at the All Blacks they just keep going. And getting better all the time!
Lets not forget though, they are facing the Springboks. This is not a team to be underestimated. Alongside du Plessis there is the likes of Morne Steyn, who when he is on with the boot is simply devestating. I’ve frequently paid Brian Habana his dues as well as an amazing player who we can not afford to give any space to. Plus any team who fields a player commonly known as ‘Beast’ – one Mr. Tendai Mtawarira – then you know this is not a team that’s going to roll over and let the All Blacks run away with it.
The maths though for the Springboks to win the championship seems a big ask. Restricting the All Blacks to less than 4 tries, and having to score a bonus point seems a big ask of any team. The All Blacks can afford to just ground and pound this one out. As long as they keep their noses in front they are going to bring the championship home. They’ve done it before, although last time it was under disgusting circumstances. I believe the All Blacks are just too strong, too determined and frankly too damn hard to break.
The Rugby Championship will come back to New Zealand this weekend, to sit in the trophy case next to the Rugby World Cup.
And the Bledisloe Cup.
And the Super Rugby Championship.
And….well you get the idea.
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