New Zealand and South Africa, both leading the Rugby Championship with 14 points, will engage in a distance duel on Saturday in Auckland and Durban for the final crown, during the 6th and final day. .
The All Blacks, in search of their third consecutive victory in this flagship competition in the southern hemisphere (knowing that South Africa could not participate in the 2020 edition due to Covid-19), are equipped with an advantage over the Springboks thanks to a better general goal average (+41 against +28).
Victorious on the edge (39-37) of Australia (3rd, 10 points) in Melbourne after a completely crazy meeting, New Zealand has not lost at Eden Park since 1994.
Criticized for its uneven results since the arrival at its head of Ian Foster (six defeats in its last ten matches), it can count on the support of the 47,000 people expected for this decisive match against the Wallabies on Saturday (9:05 a.m. ), whose last victory against the All Blacks in Auckland dates back to 1986.
“To be honest, we haven’t been too proud of some of our performances lately.“, revealed Jordie Barrett, holder in the center.
The Aussies, meanwhile, were still in awe of French referee Mathieu Raynal’s decision to sack opener Bernard Foley in the 80th minute of the game in Melbourne as they were leading.
The meeting will take place in a very tense atmosphere
Believing that Foley was taking too long to play a penalty, Mr. Raynal had reversed it in favor of Black, giving them a scrum. Following a lot of work from his vanguards, Jordie Barrett had then managed to flatten beyond regulation time, giving the victory to his team.
Despite the support given to Mathieu Raynal by several figures in world rugby, such as the Welsh referee Nigel Owens or the former English opener Andy Goode, the controversy swelled all week in Australia.
It is therefore to be feared that Saturday’s meeting will take place in a very tense atmosphere, even if the Wallabies coach, Dave Rennie, assured Thursday that his players had “put aside the disappointment of the last test“. “Last week there were a lot of positives, but we lost, so we have to do better this week…»
For this meeting, the Blacks, who recover their third line Ardie Savea, back after the birth of his third child, will be guided by their second line Sam Whitelock in the absence of Sam Cane, out of injury.
The Wallabies, who lost their second line Darcy Swain on Thursday, suspended for six weeks after a dangerous gesture on Quinn Tupaea last week, will be led by their pillar James Slipper.
Return of the Frans Steyn experiment to the Boks
The All Blacks, however, do not have full control over their destiny. Tied on points with South Africa, who will face Argentina in Durban nine hours later, they must secure a victory to improve and increase as much as possible their advantage in goal average against the Boks (+ 13 before this last day. Springboks who can win the competition for the first time since 2019.
For this match, Boks coach Jacques Nienaber made only two changes from the team aligned in Argentina, opting for the experience of versatile opener Frans Steyn (35, 77 caps) and third line Pieter-Steph Du Toit (30 years old, 63 caps), voted best player in the world in 2019.