PREVIEW: All Blacks v South Africa first Test

Ryan Crotty 1566171229

Match details: All Blacks v South Africa, 7.35pm Saturday 15 September, Westpac Stadium, Wellington

Matches played: 95
All Blacks won: 57
South Africa won: 35
Drawn: 3
Last Match: All Blacks 25, South Africa 24 (October 8, 2017)
Largest All Blacks winning margin: 57-0 (2017)

The All Blacks have made a number of changes to the match day 23 that beat Argentina 46-24 in Nelson last week. With Brodie Retallick out injured, Patrick Tuipulotu comes onto the bench with Sam Whitelock partnering Scott Barrett in the second row. In the loose forwards, Sam Cane and Liam Squire come onto the flanks in place of Ardie Savea and Shannon Frizell. In the backs, Aaron Smith and Beauden Barrett reunite in the nine and 10 jersey for the 28th time in Test. There’s a change in the back three with Ben Smith shifting to the right wing to make way for Jordie Barrett at fullback. 


While most All Blacks fans can instantly recall the 57-0 Albany drubbing last year, South Africa’s response in Cape Town cannot be forgotten. There was just one-point in it as the All Blacks clung on to a 24-25 victory over an unrelenting Springboks side. 

While South Africa boast a number of game-breakers and speedsters in their backline, their biggest attacking threats may come from the pack. Skipper Siya Kolisi has been a menace with ball in hand during the Rugby Championship. With 18 defenders beaten so far, he is easily the most potent forward in the competition and only behind Waisake Naholo (19) on total defenders beaten. His opposite Liam Squire is no slouch with ball in hand and will be looking to bust holes in the South African line at any opportunity.
Springboks coach Rassie Erasmus says his side are up against a huge battle against the All Blacks but one that is not insurmountable. “Keeping our discipline and retaining possession will be key, because New Zealand’s ability to counter from turnover ball is well-known. That means we have to be patient, our decision-making must be good and we have to capitalise on the opportunities that we create. The traditional rivalry between the two countries means we can expect a huge physical battle,” Earasmus said.

New Zealand have scored 40+ points in their last two games; they have not scored 40+ points in three or more matches since scores of 58 (vs Namibia), 43 (vs Georgia), 47 (vs Tonga) and 62 (vs France) at the 2015 Rugby World Cup.

South Africa showed last year in Cape Town that they have the talent and ability to beat the All Blacks, but the question is whether they can beat the All Blacks on their home patch. The Springboks have now lost their last eight Tests in New Zealand against the All Blacks and have not reached 20 points in a Test since 2009. To beat the All Blacks you need to rack up some big points. South Africa will need to be ruthless at ruck and maul time and pick their moments to let their speedsters fly if they are going to upset the All Blacks in Wellington.

All Blacks (caps in brackets)

1. Karl Tu’inukuafe (6) 2. Codie Taylor (35) 3. Owen Franks (101) 4. Samuel Whitelock (102)
5. Scott Barrett (22) 6. Liam Squire (19) 7. Sam Cane (57) 8. Kieran Read – captain (112) 9. Aaron Smith (76) 10. Beauden Barrett (66) 11. Rieko Ioane (17) 12. Ryan Crotty (38)13. Anton Lienert-Brown (27) 14. Ben Smith (71) 15. Jordie Barrett (6)
Reserves: 16. Liam Coltman (2) 17. Tim Perry (2) 18. Ofa Tuungafasi (19) 19. Patrick Tuipulotu (16) 20. Ardie Savea (28) 21. TJ Perenara (48) 22. Jack Goodhue (4) 23. Damian McKenzie (18)

South Africa (caps in brackets)

1. Steven Kitshoff (30) 2. Malcolm Marx (17) 3. Frans Malherbe (22) 4. Eben Etzebeth (70) 5. Franco Mostert (23) 6. Siya Kolisi (captain) (34) 7. Pieter-Steph du Toit (39) 8. Warren Whiteley (20) 9: Faf de Klerk (20) 10. Handré Pollard (32) 11. Aphiwe Dyantyi (6) 12. Damian de Allende (31) 13. Lukhanyo Am (5) 14. Jesse Kriel (33) 15: Willie le Roux (47)
Reserves: 16. Bongi Mbonambi (19), 17. Tendai Mtawarira (104), 18. Wilco Louw (9), 0
19. RG Snyman (Vodacom Bulls), 20. Francois Louw (60) 21. Ross Cronjé (10) 22. Elton Jantjies (27) 23. Cheslin Kolbe (1)

Ryan Crotty 1566171229




Andy Burt

Andy Burt is a Wellington-based writer for and co-host of the All Blacks Podcast. He covers all levels of the domestic game in New Zealand and monitors the international game closely.


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