The Rugby Championship 2021: The Breakdown - Springboks stand in the way of All Blacks clean sweep

By Sports Desk September 30, 2021

South Africa will attempt to deny New Zealand a first Rugby Championship clean sweep since 2017 at Cbus Stadium.

The All Blacks beat the Springboks 19-17 last weekend to win the title with a game to spare and Ian Foster's side can complete a Grand Slam in this year’s tournament on the Gold Coast this weekend.

Three defeats in a row ensured South Africa were unable to retain their crown and the world champions slipped to third place when Australia beat Argentina in round five.

The Wallabies were already firm favourites to extend their winning run to four matches against the Pumas in a final-round double-header before six Argentina players were ruled out for breaching COVID-19 regulations.

Pablo Matera, Joaquin Diaz Bonilla, Felipe Ezcurra, Santiago Medrano, Santiago Socino and Sebastian Cancelliere were stopped at the state border when they attempted to return to their Gold Coast base following an unauthorised trip to Byron Bay on Wednesday.

Here, Stats Perform utilizes Opta data to preview the last Rugby Championship matches of the year.

 

SOUTH AFRICA v NEW ZEALAND

Form

New Zealand have won their last 10 Tests on the bounce and edged out the Springboks in the previous round to seal top spot.

This will be the sixth Test between New Zealand and South Africa on neutral territory; the All Blacks have won each of their past four meetings in that span, though the Springboks won their inaugural fixture.

The All Blacks have gained more metres (618), scored more points (38) and made more clean breaks (14) per game than any other team in the 2021 edition of the Rugby Championship.

Ones to watch

Anton Lienert-Brown returns from injury at centre and will be expected to hit the ground running for the champions.

Wounded South Africa will be looking for number eight Duane Vermeulen to drive them on in what promises to be another almighty battle.

ARGENTINA v AUSTRALIA

Form

Australia's run of three consecutive wins is their longest since they managed four consecutive Test victories from October to November in 2017.

The Pumas have lost their past five Tests, after losing only twice in their 10 matches prior (W5, D3) to this tournament. The last time they went on a longer losing run was a 10-match span from September 2018 to September 2019.

Australia have missed the fewest tackles per game (12.2) and boast the highest tackle success rate (88.2 per cent) of any team in the 2021 edition.

Ones to watch

Greg Holmes is set to become the oldest player to feature for Australia since World War II. At the age of 38, the prop – who has not played for his country since 2016 - was named among the replacements by head coach Dave Rennie.

Emiliano Boffelli had a mixed game last Saturday, gaining 44 metres from seven carries. He was wasteful from the tee, however, and will want to make amends this weekend.

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