Sbu Nkosi produced two flashes of brilliance as South Africa ground out a 24-18 victory over Argentina at Loftus Versfeld.

The Sharks wing dashed over for a pair of silky tries that were out of keeping with the quality in the rest of the contest, with only a late disallowed score denying Argentina a famous win.

South Africa, who start their Rugby World Cup campaign against holders New Zealand on September 21, caused a surprise by winning the recent Rugby Championship ahead of the All Blacks, Australia and Saturday's opponents.

This was their final home Test before going for global glory in Japan, and it was a tough contest, with coach Rassie Erasmus seeing his side given plenty of trouble by the Pumas.

His Boks had won 46-13 in Salta when they travelled to Argentina for last weekend's Rugby Championship finale, but this never looked like being a similarly one-sided match.

Led by hooker Schalk Brits, who at 38 years and three months became South Africa's oldest first-time captain, South Africa were often sluggish 

Elton Jantjies booted South Africa ahead in the 18th minute but Argentina responded in kind through Joaquin Diaz Bonilla.

Nkosi skipped in down the right for his first try, with a stylish shuffle of his feet before darting for the line. Jantjies rattled the post with the conversion attempt.

Argentina hit back right at the end of the half with an interception try, Guido Petti seizing on a loose pass from Cobus Reinach to run in from halfway. Diaz Bonilla added the extras and the Pumas held a 10-8 half-time lead.

Nkosi produced a sparkling run and dived over for his second try, taking the aerial route to avoid a last-ditch Pumas tackle.

But there was plenty of mileage left in the contest, with Diaz Bonilla and Jantjies exchanging penalties before Pablo Matera pounced for a try from a line-out by the Boks line.

Jantjies kicked another penalty to nudge the hosts 21-18 in front yet Argentina looked to have won it when Lucas Mensa charged through to dot down late on.

An earlier obstruction on Vincent Koch resulted in the try being disallowed, to South Africa's relief, and Jantjies added the resulting penalty to secure a narrow win.

Australia coach Michael Cheika told his players to "suck it up" and move on to the next challenge after being thrashed 36-0 by New Zealand in Auckland.

With the Rugby World Cup getting under way in five weeks' time, there is little time for the Wallabies to stew and consider what might have been, after again failing to get their hands on the Bledisloe Cup.

They have not won at Eden Park since 1986 or claimed the Bledisloe Cup since 2002, and, aside from a spell early in the game when they were camped by the New Zealand line, Australia never looked like troubling the All Blacks.

Cheika, who admitted to being "terribly disappointed", nevertheless urged his team to "be resilient" following the heavy loss.

And he said they must not allow their plans for the more important quest in Japan to be knocked off track.

"You're going to be sad and disappointed but suck it up and get ready for the next one," said Cheika. "And build into the World Cup just how we've always planned to."

New Zealand made a raft of changes after their 47-26 to Australia a week earlier in Perth, and those paid off handsomely as they raided the Wallabies for five tries.

The teams could yet meet again at the World Cup, and Cheika will not lose sight of the fact Australia were better than their trans-Tasman rivals on home soil.

He added: "We've improved a lot since 2018 - on the field and off the field - and we have to take it on the chin.

"If you'd asked me how I was feeling yesterday or before the game, I was feeling really good about the improvements we'd made.

"And as terribly disappointed as I am about the game, I'm not going to throw them away, I'm going to put them into context."

Cheika is due to name his 31-man squad for the World Cup on Friday and said he would not rush to judge the team on the Eden Park performance.

He said, according to the Wallabies' website: "We just wanted all the games to play out and then we'll sit down early in the week and get it done."

Wales moved to the top of the world rankings for the first time in their history with a 13-6 win over England in Cardiff.

Eddie Jones' side denied the Grand Slam winners that distinction with a 33-19 victory at Twickenham last weekend but that result was avenged during a largely uneventful pre-World Cup encounter.

George North scored the only try as Dan Biggar proved instrumental to Wales' win – a timely answer to the criticism from former Wales and British and Irish Lions great JJ Williams this week, who said his country would not win the World Cup with the Northampton Saints man at fly-half in the wake of Gareth Anscombe's cruciate knee ligament injury.

All the points acquired by an experimental England line-up came from George Ford's boot, with Ireland awaiting Jones' men next weekend.

An error-strewn opening from both sides contributed to there being no score until the 26th minute, with Biggar slotting over a close-range penalty after England crept offside at the end of a rumbling 13-phase move.

Wales' number 10 was integral to the sole try of the match, stabbing a quick penalty out to Josh Adams following Anthony Watson's yellow card for a deliberate knock-on.

England were unable to reset and another superb Biggar kick switched play to the left for North to touch down.

Watson returned from the sinbin at the start of the second half, as did scrum-half Willi Heinz after getting the all-clear from a head-injury assessment, and the visitors resumed on the front foot – a quickfire pair of Ford penalties trimming the deficit.

Leigh Halfpenny, who was a late inclusion at full-back after Liam Williams withdrew due to a tight hamstring in the warm-up, was off-target with an attempt from halfway.

Watson was hauled down six metres from the line as a blistering England attack own the right had Wales scrambling – Biggar's huge hit on Maro Itoje preceding an offside call in the hosts' favour.

Five minutes from time a successful Halfpenny long-ranger closed out victory and knocked New Zealand off the top of the World Rugby standings, despite the All Blacks' 36-0 routing of Australia to seal the Bledisloe Cup at Eden Park earlier on Saturday.

All Blacks captain Kieran Read saluted his team-mates after they retained the Bledisloe Cup with a clinical 36-0 win over Australia at Eden Park.

The world champions scored five tries without reply, as New Zealand made amends for last weekend's 47-26 defeat to the Wallabies in Perth.

Sonny Bill Williams, Sevu Reece and George Bridge were promoted to the starting XV and each scored a try, as Steve Hansen's 100th match in charge proved one to savour.

Read said: "It feels fantastic. A lot's been said all week and the guys really fronted. So, I'm so happy. It's a trophy that we cherish. I know the Wallabies do as well.

"We both really love playing for this cup and it showed in these two matches.

"I don't think you can expect to have a result like that, but it comes through hard work.

"The team truly believes in each other and that's what we're going to need moving forward."

His opposite number, Michael Hooper, had high hopes of becoming the first Australia skipper in 17 years to get to grips with the Bledisloe Cup trophy.

But Read it was who joyously lifted the silverware in Auckland, leaving Hooper to reflect on where the second game in the series went wrong for Australia.

Hooper said on Sky Sports: "The turnaround in seven days... they dominated all bar a few minutes of that game in all areas, they were really good at the scrum, lineout, so hats off to them.

"Our boys, we threw everything we had at them the whole game, probably let it get too far away in the end there.

"We've got a lot of heart, a lot of heart to come down here. We've had a really good week, unfortunately it didn't show out there tonight.

"But we'll rebuild. We're still rebuilding and gaining momentum.

"We'll have a couple of days off, it's going to take a toll on our bodies. We'll get back together, regroup, and see what we can learn from this game and build and get better."

Picked off in Perth, but awesome in Auckland, the All Blacks restored normal order in their Bledisloe Cup rivalry as they crushed Australia 36-0 at Eden Park.

Embarrassed by last weekend's 47-26 defeat to their trans-Tasman rivals, Steve Hansen's New Zealand restored national pride and retained their trophy with a ruthless win.

Hansen made changes, after accusing his players of producing "dumb footy" at Optus Stadium, where they lost Scott Barrett to a controversial red card.

Into the pack came Nepo Laulala and Patrick Tuipulotu, with the backs given a shuffle with the inclusion of George Bridge, Sonny Bill Williams and Sevu Reece.

Williams crossed for New Zealand's third try early in the second half, after scores from Richie Mo'unga and Aaron Smith had put the hosts firmly in control, and Reece bolted through for the fourth in the 67th minute - his first for the All Blacks.

Bridge applied the finishing touches with the fifth try in the 77th minute. The changes worked for Hansen, to put it mildly.

Schalk Brits described the chance to captain South Africa for the first time at the age of 38 as a "dream come true" and expressed his gratitude for the opportunity.

Brits has not started for the Springboks since 2008 and has just 12 caps to his name, but he will lead the side out against Argentina this weekend.

The Bulls hooker becomes his country's oldest first-time skipper and is relishing the opportunity.

Brits says he will rely on regular captain Siya Kolisi for advice and hopes he can justify the "unbelievable honour" of being involved.

"To lead my country is one dream that has come true for me and it's going to be amazing to lead out this group of players representing our country and the Springboks," he told reporters on Friday.

"For me, being part of the Springboks is such a huge honour. I've been involved with the Springboks since 2008 and only played 12 Test matches, but every time I get selected, or even performing a supporting role, it's an unbelievable honour.

"Siya is still our captain and I am going to rely heavily on him and the other leaders in our team.

"From my perspective, we just want a complete team performance, and if we can get that right then I think we will be happy as a team."

Happy just to be back in the side, having last year returned from a lengthy spell at Saracens, Brits added: "Being back in the country and then part of the squad is unbelievable.

"I am really grateful, every day, for having a second chance."

Ruaridh McConnochie's England debut may be delayed further due to him suffering muscle soreness prior to Saturday's encounter against Wales.

The Bath winger had been due to face Warren Gatland's side in last weekend's reverse encounter at Twickenham, which England won 33-19, only to miss out with a hip problem.

Head coach Eddie Jones said McConnochie's issue is not the same as the one that saw him sit out last time around, but his chances of playing at the Principality Stadium are in doubt.

"Ruaridh pulled up a bit sore today so we're not 100 per cent sure how he’ll be," Jones said on Friday.

"We'll find out later tonight. It's not the same injury. He's just sore, so we'll find out about it."

There was better news on the progress of Mako Vunipola, though, with the Saracens prop close to returning from the hamstring injury he sustained towards the back end of last season.

"Mako did a bit of extra work at the end of training today, a bit of contact work. A bit of defence work. He should get some time next weekend against Ireland," Jones added.

Danny Cipriani insists he "can't be disappointed" at being omitted from England's Rugby World Cup squad, despite missing out on a "seven-year" goal.

The Gloucester fly-half was not included in a warm-weather trip to Treviso last month even though he was included in the prior two training camps.

Cipriani has flitted in and out of contention under head coach Eddie Jones in a heated battle for the 10 jersey with Owen Farrell and George Ford.

The 31-year-old's dream of playing at a World Cup is now certainly over having also missed out in 2011 and 2015, but Cipriani is harbouring no ill will.

"I would have loved to be involved in England's Rugby World Cup squad. It has been a seven-year goal with different challenges along the way," Cipriani wrote in his column for The Telegraph.

"But I can't be disappointed because there was honestly no expectation from my side. It was never my right. I never thought: 'Last season went pretty well, I should be picked.'

"All in all, I had two weeks in camp, then a week on my own with my sprint coach Margot Wells after being told I needed the extra conditioning. Then there was one final training session with game-based drills on the Friday, led by Eddie Jones.

"Afterwards, later that afternoon on my way back down to Cheltenham, he rang to say I would not be going out to Italy. Three days later, on the following Monday, I flew to Los Angeles and I have been here since."

It is not known whether Cipriani will make England's injury reserve list, but the Premiership player of the year plans on getting himself in prime condition should an emergency call come his way.

"Eddie has said that everyone needs to be ready and the best way to do that is for me to be the best version of myself at Gloucester," Cipriani said. "I have not been told where I am in the England pecking order, but if the stars align and the call does come at any point, I'll be ready. I felt ready seven years ago."

Michael Hooper says facing New Zealand with the prospect of ending a 17-year Bledisloe Cup drought "ups the hunger" for Australia.

The Wallabies thumped the All Blacks 47-26 in Perth last Saturday, taking full advantage of Scott Barrett's red card.

New Zealand lost their Rugby Championship title after South Africa beat Argentina later in the day and they will be looking for a first win in three Tests at Eden Park on Saturday, knowing they are in danger of slipping off the top of the rankings.

Australia have lost their last 18 Tests against the world champions, but captain Hooper is relishing the challenge of trying to get his hands on the Bledisloe Cup for the first time.

"These are the games you want to be a part of and it's even a level up again this week," the flanker said.

"You're going to a place where many a generation of Wallaby hasn't won and coming up against a great New Zealand side for some silverware on the line.

"It's fantastic being on the other end and certainly ups the hunger."

Assistant coach Simon Raiwalui knows Australia face a huge challenge at the Auckland venue.

"Obviously there's a history but we've been solely focused on what's in front of us. It's all in the present," Raiwalui said.

"We're under no illusions about what we face. It's a great All Black team full of quality players and they're going to come out and they're going to be fizzing."

Kieran Read insists the Bledisloe Cup decider with Australia will provide precisely the kind of high-pressure environment New Zealand thrive in.

The All Blacks suffered a stunning 47-26 loss to their rivals in Perth last time out, marking the highest points tally they have conceded in a Test and the joint-heaviest defeat in their proud history.

That result has given the Wallabies high hopes of a first series win over New Zealand since 2002 but Read says Steve Hansen's side are ready to put the record straight at Eden Park on Saturday.

"When you put in a performance like that, you want to rectify it," the captain said.

"We've got the chance this week, that's the best thing about it. We've had a good week but it's about putting it on the field.

"These moments are built for us as All Blacks and the way you're going to respond is crucial.

"This is a mental game as much as a physical game, so it's our response mentally and building up to the game in your head [that's important]. You can't do it all on the paddock.

"This group is hurting, that's how it should be in an All Black jersey and we've got the chance to go out and rectify that and we're excited by that."

The weight of history heavily favours New Zealand this weekend, with the nation unbeaten in 25 years at Eden Park.

Australia will be out to prove their thrashing of New Zealand last weekend was no flash in the pan when they attempt to win the Bledisloe Cup for the first time in 17 years on Saturday.

The Wallabies went on to crush the All Blacks 47-26 at Optus Stadium after Scott Barrett was shown a red card for a dangerous tackle on Michael Hooper.

That victory was not enough for Australia to win the Rugby Championship, with South Africa taking the title for the first time in a decade by beating Argentina later in the day.

Michael Cheika's men can still get their hands on a trophy ahead of the World Cup, though, as a famous win at fortress Eden Park will see them end a long wait to lift the Bledisloe Cup.

We take a look at a selection of key Opta facts for the trans-Tasman showdown in Auckland.

 

- Australia will be out to secure consecutive wins over New Zealand for the first time since a three-match streak in 2000-01.

- New Zealand have won their last 18 Tests against Australia at Eden Park and have not lost to the Wallabies at the venue since September 1986.

- The world champion All Blacks are winless in their last two Tests, having drawn against South Africa last month, and have not endured a longer run without a victory since a five-match losing streak in July-August 1998.

- Beauden Barrett has now scored 11 tries against Australia, the joint-most of any player against a single Tier 1 nation in Test history.

- Samu Kerevi made the most offloads (six) of any player in the Rugby Championship, one more than Australia team-mate Kurtley Beale and New Zealand’s Ben Smith.

- Australia have won only two of their last 10 Tests played away from home, those victories coming against Italy in Padova and Argentina in Salta in late 2018.

Australia coach Michael Cheika has no doubt over his team's hunger to regain the Bledisloe Cup as they prepare to face New Zealand again.

Cheika's side shocked the All Blacks in Perth last weekend, claiming a 47-26 victory in the first of two Bledisloe Cup matches this year, with the return fixture taking place in Auckland on Saturday.

New Zealand's defeat saw them surrender their grip on the Rugby Championship title, while they must win at Eden Park to retain the Bledisloe Cup, a trophy the Wallabies have not held since 2002.

Cheika told a news conference: "The Bledisloe Cup means a lot. It doesn't just mean a lot when you have it, it means probably more when you don't have it.

"That pursuit of trying to get it sometimes you sit off and you sort of defer it and say we'll take the game in our stride.

"But that's only hiding from the fact that we know we haven't had it for a long time and we're hungry to go there and do our best to try and take a trophy obviously.

"We know we're going to come up against an excellent opponent who is going to be ready to go as well and that's why I suppose the game is so looked forward to and anticipated."

Cheika's sentiments were echoed by Australia captain Michael Hooper.

"I said it last week, these are the games you want to be a part of and even a level up again this week for some of the stuff," Hooper said.

"It's just an amazing opportunity to be involved in. You go down to a place where many a generation of Wallabies hasn't won down there.

"You're coming up against a great New Zealand side for some silverware on the line, yeah it's fantastic being on the other receiving end and it certainly ups the hunger."

The Wallabies have just one further match ahead of the Rugby World Cup following the clash with the All Blacks, as they face Samoa in a friendly on September 7.

Warren Gatland challenged Wales to "step it up" as he named Dan Biggar as one of three changes to his starting line-up for the World Cup warm-up match against England on Saturday.

Wales missed the chance to replace New Zealand at the top of the rankings when they were beaten 33-19 by an experimental England side at Twickenham last weekend.

Gareth Anscombe suffered a knee injury which will keep him out of the World Cup in Japan as Eddie Jones' men ended the Grand Slam winners' 14-match winning run.

Biggar comes in at fly-half to replace Anscombe, while flanker James Davies and lock Jake Ball come in for the injured Adam Beard and Justin Tipuric in Cardiff.

Fit-again flanker Josh Navidi was named among the replacements, but scrum-half Tomos Williams (shoulder) remains sidelined.

Wales head coach Gatland said: "We were disappointed to get the loss last weekend, so it is important we step it up on Saturday and put in a big display in front of a packed Principality Stadium.

"The squad are looking forward to getting back out there, taking another step towards the Rugby World Cup and putting in a big performance."

Wales team to face England on Saturday: Liam Williams, George North, Jonathan Davies, Hadleigh Parkes, Josh Adams, Dan Biggar, Gareth Davies; Nicky Smith, Ken Owens, Tomas Francis, Jake Ball, Alun Wyn Jones (captain), Aaron Wainwright, James Davies, Ross Moriarty.

Replacements: Elliot Dee, Wyn Jones, Dillon Lewis, Aaron Shingler, Josh Navidi, Aled Davies, Jarrod Evans, Owen Watkin.

Eddie Jones has reminded his England squad "nothing has been achieved" heading into Saturday's World Cup warm-up match with Wales.

England claimed a 33-19 victory over the Six Nations champions on Sunday, and they face Warren Gatland's side again in Cardiff as World Cup preparations click into gear.

Ruaridh McConnochie - included in Jones' 31-man World Cup squad - will make his England debut at the Principality Stadium, while the visitors will be without the injured Sam Underhill and Tom Curry.

Although England's performance against Wales last Sunday was impressive, Jones says his side know they must keep stepping up their levels as the Japan-hosted tournament, now only five weeks away, draws closer.

"The squad has been progressing well this week and I think there is a realisation among the squad now that the hard work really starts, nothing has been achieved," Jones said.

"Our selection strategy for our second game is similar to the first, so a bit of a mix-and-match approach. We are looking at different combinations and have a particular strategy for this game.

"The game is very much about ourselves preparing for the World Cup and we are respectful that we have got such strong opposition at their home ground."

Lewis Ludlam will make his second consecutive start, moving to openside as Courtney Lawes comes into the back row, covering for Curry, while Maro Itoje starts in place of Charlie Ewels, who did not make the cut for the World Cup.

Jones' assistant Scott Wisemantel is confident McConnochie can thrive on his debut.

"He deserves his chance and it was unfortunate last week that he had that minor blow," Wisemantel told a news conference.

"But I think in Cardiff on Saturday where it will be quite intense, he'll settle into a rhythm and then he'll be fine."

England team to face Wales: Elliot Daly; Ruaridh McConnochie, Jonathan Joseph, Piers Francis, Joe Cokanasiga; George Ford, Willi Heinz; Ellis Genge, Luke Cowan-Dickie, Dan Cole; Joe Launchbury, Maro Itoje; Courtney Lawes, Lewis Ludlam, Billy Vunipola.

Replacements: Jamie George, Joe Marler, Kyle Sinckler, George Kruis, Jack Singleton, Ben Youngs, Owen Farrell, Manu Tuilagi.

Adam Coleman has replaced Rory Arnold in the only change to the Wallabies' starting side as they look to win the Bledisloe Cup against New Zealand on Saturday.

Arnold is out due to a hand injury, with Coleman set to make his first Test start of the year when Australia visit Eden Park.

The Reds' Liam Wright could make his debut off the bench, while Rob Simmons has also been named among the reserves.

The Wallabies are also boosted by the inclusion of Adam Ashley-Cooper, named for his first Test of 2019.

Australia stunned the All Blacks 47-26 in Perth and are on the verge of winning the Bledisloe Cup for the first time since 2002.

However, New Zealand are unbeaten in their past 42 matches at the Auckland venue – a run that dates back to 1994 – and the Wallabies have lost 22 straight games away to their rivals.

Australia: Kurtley Beale, Reece Hodge, James O'Connor, Samu Kerevi, Marika Koroibete, Christian Lealiifano, Nic White; Scott Sio, Tolu Latu, Allan Alaalatoa, Izack Rodda, Adam Coleman, Lukhan Salakaia-Loto, Michael Hooper, Isi Naisarani.
Replacements: Folau Fainga'a, James Slipper, Taniela Tupou, Rob Simmons, Liam Wright, Will Genia, Matt To'omua, Adam Ashley-Cooper.

Page 4 of 7
© 2018 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.