Springboks Have The Record To Down All Blacks
South Africa’s superior World Cup record over New Zealand could be enough to upset the odds in the first of the Rugby World Cup semi-finals this weekend.
Having finished bottom of this summer’s Rugby Championship, South Africa were under a lot of pressure going into the World Cup and got off to a terrible start, losing to Japan. They recovered from that shock to register victories over Samoa, Scotland and the United States, and having topped Pool B, progressed to the semi-finals by overcoming a battling Welsh side 23-19.
Despite finishing second in this year’s Rugby Championship, New Zealand went into this tournament as the ante-post favourites, but they didn’t look that impressive in their Pool games, struggling to overcome Argentina, and labouring to victories over Namibia, Tonga and Georgia. But they showed their best form to date in the quarter-final against France, running in nine tries in a total demolition of their opponents.
South African lock Lood de Jager and hooker Bismarck du Plessis sustained injuries in the quarter-final match against Wales, but de Jager has recovered from his foot injury and du Plessis will play with a hand wound strapped up. Lock Victor Matfield is also available but will start on the bench, which means that the Springbok can name an unchanged starting line-up in a World Cup game for the first time since 2007.
Flying winger Nehe Milner-Skudder came off with an injured shoulder at half-time in the match against France, but his recovery is progressing well and he has a good chance of starting on Saturday.
Loose head prop Wyatt Crockett, who was also substituted in the quarter-final, is unlikely to be fit in time and if he isn’t available, Joe Moody will once again take his place.
The All-Blacks have beaten the Springboks 52 times in their 90 meetings and have won 10 of their last 12 matches, including their latest encounter in Johannesburg in July, when South Africa led until seven minutes from time only to lose 27-20.
However, it is worth noting that South Africa have the edge in World Cups.
They’ve beaten New Zealand twice in three meetings, and are one of only two sides to hold an overall winning record against the All Blacks in this tournament.
Based on what we saw in the quarter-finals, New Zealand should be fairly confident of victory. But World Cup knock-out games rarely go to plan and South Africa have reasons to be optimistic. They have the loose forwards to slow down Ma’a Nonu, who drives so much of the All Blacks’ play, they may have an edge at the line-out and most significantly, all of the pressure will be on their opponents.
South Africa can push the favourites hard and are worth backing with an eight point start at Evens in the Match Handicap market. And don’t forget, if you have a bet in the first tryscorer market, Boylesports will give you your money back as a free bet if the first try of the game is unconverted.
South Africa +8 @ EVS
*Price correct at time of publication