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2022 Rugby Championship: Round 4 match previews

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After three rounds, the 2022 Rugby Championship hots up after Argentina’s back-to-back wins over Australia and New Zealand puts Los Pumas top of the table.

Stuttering South Africa sits bottom of the log after back-to-back defeats to New Zealand in Johannesburg and Australia in Adelaide last weekend.

After an incredible three rounds of the 2022 Rugby Championship, Argentina still leads the tournament with Australia hot on the South Americans’ heels.

This year’s tournament has already seen some upsets and is in unprecedented territory, with all four teams still in with a shout to win the competition going into round four.


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Michael Cheika delivered one of his finest victories as an international coach when his charges put on a defensive masterclass at Orangetheory Stadium in Christchurch.

Cheika’s side made an incredible 196 of 205 tackles for a tackle success rate of 96%.

Marcos Kremer – who made 28 tackles in Argentina’s first-ever win against New Zealand in the 2020 Tri-Nations in Western Sydney – led the way again.

Kremer notched a match-defining 26 tackles as the stubborn Pumas humbled the All Blacks in Canterbury.

Dave Rennie’s men dig deep to beat Boks 25-17 in Adelaide to get back on track in the Rugby Championship.

Wallabies’ head coach Dave Rennie saw his side bounce back from their historical 48-17 thumping at the hands of Los Pumas in San Juan in round two.

Rennie’s side was fortunate that several contentious officiating calls went the way of the Aussies as they frustrated South Africa in the capital.

The home team has an incredible record against the tourists, who always seem to struggle in Australia.

One would expect another positive result for the hosts as they look to stay in the hunt for a rare southern hemisphere title.

All Blacks head coach Ian foster’s woes continue as his team fails to deliver yet again.

The pressure continues to mount for underfire coach Ian Foster, who will do well to keep his job if his side loses again to the Pumas.

Last weekend delivered further upsets as Argentina beat New Zealand 25-18 on New Zealand soil for the first time in history.

The All Blacks get the chance to turn their beleaguered campaign around when they host the Pumas in Hamilton, Waikato.

Confidence in the All Blacks camp is low; they have played six Tests in 2022 and won just two. The Kiwis have only won two matches in their last eight Tests.

Springboks head coach Jacques Nienaber is also under fire for his team’s last two sub-standard displays against the All Blacks and Wallabies.

South Africa also appears to be struggling. The Springboks have dropped to last place in the standings and this weekend will be looking to avoid a ninth consecutive loss to the Wallabies in Sydney.

The Springboks’ last victory against Australia at home was nine years ago in 2013.

To make matters more difficult, coach Jacques Nienaber has made eight changes to his starting lineup due to injuries and form.

The Boks’ record down under is terrible, the three-time Rugby World Champions have only won four Tri-Nations/Rugby Championship Tests since 1996, five in total since readmission.

Anything could happen this weekend. Really.


New Zealand v Argentina Rugby Championship Rd.4 Preview

The All Blacks selectors Ian Foster, Joe Schmidt and Jason Ryan have named an unchanged starting side to play Argentina at FMG Stadium in Hamilton.

The first five-eighths Beauden Barrett and lock Brodie Retallick have been brought in to provide cover as they make their return from injury.

The pair add 201 Test caps of experience between them, while Barrett is the most capped All Black against Argentina, with 16 appearances.

Additional changes have been made to the bench. Hooker Dane Coles and loose-forward Dalton Papali’i have been introduced as the All Blacks seek improvements heading into the second half of the Rugby Championship.

“We are obviously looking to build parts of our game and this week is another chance to do that,” said All Blacks head coach Ian Foster. “This year’s Rugby Championship is extremely tight and that makes this weekend’s Test an exciting opportunity.

“As a group, this has been a week of refining areas where we know we can be better. It has been a good preparation in Hamilton so far and the hard work will need to continue so that we get a performance everyone can be proud of.”

Former Wallabies coach Michael Cheika has named a team that has four changes, including flanker Juan Martin Gonzalez, who is dropped to the bench.

Gonzalez is replaced by Santiago Grondona. Lock Guido Petti replaces Matias Alemmano.

Wing Santiago Cordero and halfback Tomas Cubelli have been recalled for Lucio Cinti and Gonzalo Bertranou, which adds experience to Cheika’s back line.

Emiliano Boffelli retains his place on the right wing, which makes him the only player who will have started all seven tests in 2022.

Castres fly-half Benjamin Urdapilleta comes in on the bench to play his first game since injuring his leg in the Top-14 final loss to Montpellier in June.

The Bookies have given Argentina a 13-point start for this Match – with an offer of up to $200 in Bonus bets.

Matches played: 34
Won by New Zealand: 31
Won by Argentina: 2
Played in New Zealand: 18
Matches played in New Zealand and won by New Zealand:16
Draws: 1

Match: New Zealand v Argentina
Date: Saturday 3 September
Venue: FMG Stadium Waikato, Hamilton
Kickoff: 04:05 ARG/09:05 RSA/17:05 AUS [AEST]/19:05 NZ
Referee: Nic Berry [AUS]
Assistant Ref 1: Nika Amashukeli [GEO]
Assistant Ref 2: Jordan Way [AUS]
TMO: Brian McNeice [IRE]

Teams

New Zealand

15 Jordie Barrett, 14 Will Jordan, 13 Rieko Ioane, 12 David Havili, 11 Caleb Clarke, 10 Richie Mo’unga, 9 Aaron Smith, 8 Ardie Savea, 7 Sam Cane (captain), 6 Shannon Frizell, 5 Scott Barrett, 4 Sam Whitelock, 3 Tyrel Lomax, 2 Samisoni Taukei’aho, 1 Ethan de Groot

Replacements: 16 Dane Coles, 17 George Bower, 18 Fletcher Newell, 19 Brodie Retallick, 20 Dalton Papali’i, 21 Finlay Christie, 22 Beauden Barrett, 23 Quinn Tupaea

Argentina

15 Juan Cruz Mallia, 14 Emiliano Boffelli, 13 Matias Moroni, 12 Matias Orlando, 11 Santiago Cordero, 10 Santiago Carreras, 9 Tomas Cubelli, 8 Pablo Matera, 7 Marcos Kremer, 6 Santiago Grondona; 5 Tomas Lavanini, 4 Guido Petti, 3 Joel Sclavi, 2 Julian Montoya (captain), 1 Thomas Gallo

Replacements: 16 Santiago Socino, 17 Mayco Vivas, 18 Eduardo Bello, 19 Matias Alemanno, 20 Juan Martin Gonzalez, 21 Gonzalo Bertranou, 22 Benjamin Urdapilleta, 23 Lucio Cinti


Australia v South Africa Rugby Championship Rd.4 Preview

Wallabies head coach Dave Rennie has named an unchanged starting side for the second Test against the Springboks in Sydney.

This is the first time that Rennie has retained the side he selected for the week before.

James Slipper retains the captaincy as Australia look to extend their unbeaten streak against the 2019 World Champions in Australia to nine games.

Slipper will play his 121st Test, equalling Michael Hooper, the man who he replaced as captain, and former teammate Adam Ashley-Cooper.

“It’s great to be able to have some consistency in selection with the team that played last week earning the right to wear the jersey again in Sydney,” Rennie said in a statement.

“While rapt with last week’s effort, we’re well aware of the challenge a wounded Springbok poses, and the intensity we will require again on Saturday night.”

The only change to the 23 comes on the bench with Jake Gordon coming into the side for Tate McDermott.

Rennie has retained the 6-2 split, with the Waratahs skipper joining Andrew Kellaway on the bench as the two back reserves.

The clash will be the first International event held at the brand new, state-of-the-art venue in front of a capacity 42,500 crowd.

“We’re excited by the opportunity to play in front of a sold-out crowd in the first International event at the new Allianz Stadium,” Rennie added.

Springboks’ coach Jacques Nienaber rings the changes, both forced and unforced as Boks look to bounce back.

South Africa’s head coach Jacques Nienaber has made sweeping changes with eight new players in the starting team.

Nienaber has included utility back Canan Moodie – on the wing – in the team to make his debut in the starting team.

World Cup winners Handré Pollard, Lukhanyo Am and Pieter-Steph du Toit were all ruled out due to knee injuries.

Elton Jantjies injured his hand and was not available for selection this weekend, which means Damian Willemse will move from fullback to flyhalf.

Jesse Kriel will slot in at centre, and Franco Mostert has been included in the loose trio.

Moodie, 19, earns his first start on the right wing in a positional switch with Warrick Gelant, who has been named among the replacements. The experienced Willie le Roux will take Willemse’s place at fullback.

The other change in the backline is at scrumhalf, where Jaden Hendrikse takes over from Faf de Klerk.

Apart from Mostert’s inclusion among the forwards, prop Steven Kitshoff and hooker Malcolm Marx earn starts in a new-look front row with Frans Malherbe.

Jasper Wiese takes over at No 8 from Duane Vermeulen, who will provide an impact off the replacements bench.

These changes see a reshuffle of the front row on the bench. Deon Fourie is the replacement hooker, with Ox Nche and Trevor Nyakane providing cover at prop.

Among the backs, Cobus Reinach will serve as back-up for Hendrikse at scrumhalf, with Frans Steyn providing cover flyhalf and centre. Gelant will offer options on the wing and at fullback.

Nienaber said: “We selected a team we thought would be best for this match given that we have several players out with injuries and with an eye on how we want to play.

“Handré [Pollard], Lukhanyo [Am], Elton [Jantjies] and Pieter-Steph [Du Toit] are all carrying injuries which adds to a long list that includes Cheslin Kolbe and Sbu Nkosi.

“Kurt-Lee Arendse is also out (serving a suspension), which has forced our hand to make a few changes in some positions.

“With both flyhalves injured, Damian [Willemse] was the natural choice at No 10, where he has slotted in for us a lot. He is also becoming a settled player in our team, with over 20 Test caps to his name.

“This will also be a great test for Canan [Moodie], who was a stand-out player for the Vodacom Bulls this season in the  United Rugby Championship. He’s a very talented player, who will enjoy this opportunity.”

Nienaber added: “Cobus [Reinach] – at his best – is world-class, and having seen what he offers us at training, we think he’s close to that form. With him, Warrick [Gelant] and Frans Steyn on the bench, we have sufficient cover among the backs.”

Commenting on the changes among the forwards, the 49-year-old coach said: “With Bongi (Mbonambi) and Trevor [Nyakane] injured in the last few weeks, we were in a position where we could test other combinations and we got some good answers in that regard.

“This weekend we opted to make a few switches, with Ox [Nche] and Trevor playing off the bench, along with Deon Fourie.

“With Bongi and Malcolm [Marx] both settled with over 50 Test caps each, it was always our plan to give Joseph (Dweba) and Deon a chance at hooker, and this week Deon gets a run.”

The Bookies have given South Africa a 1-point start for this Match – with an offer of up to $200 in Bonus bets.

Matches played: 91
Won by Australia: 40
Won by South Africa: 48
Played in Australia:  41
Matches played in Australia and won by Australia: 27
Draws: 3

Match: Australia v South Africa
Date: Saturday 3 September
Venue: Allianz Stadium, Sydney
Kickoff: 06:35 ARG/11:35 RSA/ 19:35 AUS/21:35 NZ
Referee: Ben O’Keeffe [NZL]
Assistant Ref: Paul Williams [NZL]
Assistant Ref 2: Tual Trainini [FRA]
TMO: Brendon Pickerill [NZL]

Teams

Australia

15 Reece Hodge, 14 Tom Wright, 13 Len Ikitau, 12 Hunter Paisami, 11 Marika Koroibete, 10 Noah Lolesio, 9 Nic White, 8 Rob Valetini, 7 Fraser McReight, 6 Jed Holloway, 5 Matt Philip, 4 Rory Arnold, 3 Allan Alaalatoa, 2 Folau Fainga’a, 1 James Slipper (captain)

Replacements: 16 David Porecki, 17 Scott Sio, 18 Taniela Tupou, 19 Darcy Swain, 20 Rob Leota, 21 Pete Samu, 22 Jack Gordon, 23 Andrew Kellaway

South Africa 

15 Willie le Roux, 14 Canan Moodie, 13 Jesse Kriel, 12 Damian de Allende, 11 Makazole Mapimpi, 10 Damian Willemse, 9 Jaden Hendrikse, 8 Jasper Wiese, 7 Franco Mostert, 6 Siyamthanda (Siya) Kolisi (captain), 5 Lodewyk (Lood) de Jager, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Frans Malherbe, 2 Malcolm Marx, 1 Steven Kitshoff

Replacements: 16 Deon Fourie, 17 Retshegofaditswe (Ox) Nche, 18 Trevor Nyakane, 19 Albertus (Kwagga) Smith, 20 Duane Vermeulen, 21 Jacobus Reinach, 22 Francois Steyn, 23 Warrick Gelant


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