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Preview: South Africa v New Zealand

Preview: South Africa v New Zealand

South Africa face another stern examination when they take on New Zealand in their highly anticipated Rugby Championship Test at Newlands on Saturday.

Although the All Blacks have yet again finished at the top of the Rugby Championship table with a round to spare, the Springboks will be using this Test as a chance to redeem themselves after they suffered a humiliating 57-0 defeat to the world champions in the corresponding fixture in Albany last month.

Redemption is not the only thing on the Boks' minds as they head into this Test, however.

Victory in this fixture will also ensure that South Africa finish second in the standings - ahead of Australia, who are currently trailing the Springboks by three points but the Wallabies have an easier assignment later this weekend in Mendoza against the tournament's bottom team, Argentina.

Bok head coach Allister Coetzee knows his side face a daunting task but said they are ready for the challenge.

“The All Blacks will again test us in every department," he said.

"They don’t seem to have any weak areas, so we will have to show that we’ve learnt from our experience in Albany. Saturday is another huge opportunity for us to continue to grow as a team and build on our cohesion.”

The world champions might have demolished the Springboks in Albany a few weeks ago, but All Blacks head coach Steve Hansen still expects a tough challenge from their hosts.

"We know we’ll be playing a proud Springbok side which will be determined to rectify what happened in Albany," he said.

"While it’s necessary for us to try and anticipate what they’re going to bring to the match, it’s more important for us to focus on what we’re going to bring to the encounter. 

"Our skill execution, our physicality and our ability to play our ‘triple threat’ game will be critical."

But despite Hansen's attempts to talk up his opponents, statistics show that his team head into this clash as overwhelming favourites. New Zealand have scored 114 points in their last two games against South Africa (exactly 57 on each occasion), and are coming off the back of the biggest win in the history of this fixture (57-0). 

The All Blacks have also won five games on the bounce against South Africa, the last time they won more in succession was an eight-game streak from 2001 to 2004.

But despite that, the Springboks have fared well on their home soil and have lost only one of their last 10 Tests in South Africa -winning eight and drawing one - with that 57-15 loss to New Zealand in October 2016 the only blemish during that period. 

Players to watch:

For South Africa: If the Boks' pack can supply their backs with quality ball, Jesse Kriel may have a chance to shine as he is a potential game breaker who possesses plenty of pace and is a powerful runner. If space is created for him by his inside backs - particularly Elton Jantjies and Jan Serfontein - or through his vision and quick feet, Kriel could provide his opposite number, Ryan Crotty, with defensive headaches.

For New Zealand: If pointless kicks are sent his way, Damian McKenzie will be a real threat. However, if well-timed kick chases are made by the Boks, he may also struggle due to his lack of height especially under the high ball. When he does have the ball and a bit of space, he is an excellent runner in his own right though and can create scoring opportunities for others. It is hardly surprising that he and Beauden Barrett have each made 57 carries this campaign, more than any other player in the tournament.

Head-to-head: Eben Etzebeth and Sam Whitelock have had totally different success rates with lineouts in this season's Championship. The Boks have struggled while New Zealand have thrived. The battle in the air will be key in the final outcome, as will all the set-pieces, with the All Blacks now dominating areas which were previously their only weakness.

Previous results:

2017: New Zealand won 57-0 in Albany

2016: New Zealand won 57-15 in Durban

2016: New Zealand won 41-13 in Christchurch

2015: New Zealand won 20-18 in London (RWC semi-final)

2015: New Zealand won 27-20 in Johannesburg

2014: South Africa won 27-25 in Johannesburg

2014: New Zealand won 14-10 in Wellington

2013: New Zealand won 38-27 in Johannesburg

2013: New Zealand won 29-15 in Auckland

2012: New Zealand won 32-16 in Johannesburg

2012: New Zealand won 21-11 in Dunedin

2011: South Africa won 18-5 in Port Elizabeth

Prediction: After their convincing win in the previous fixture between these sides, it's difficult to look beyond anything but another All Blacks triumph. New Zealand to win by between 15 and 20 points.

The teams:

South Africa: 15 Andries Coetzee, 14 Dillyn Leyds, 13 Jesse Kriel, 12 Jan Serfontein, 11 Courtnall Skosan, 10 Elton Jantjies, 9 Ross Cronje, 8 Francois Louw, 7 Pieter-Steph du Toit, 6 Siya Kolisi, 5 Lood de Jager, 4 Eben Etzebeth (c), 3 Ruan Dreyer, 2 Malcolm Marx, 1 Steven Kitshoff

Replacements: 16 Chiliboy Ralepelle, 17 Trevor Nyakane, 18 Wilco Louw, 19 Franco Mostert, 20 Jean-Luc du Preez, 21 Rudy Paige, 22 Handré Pollard, 23 Damian de Allende

New Zealand: 15 Damian McKenzie, 14 Nehe Milner-Skudder, 13 Ryan Crotty, 12 Sonny Bill Williams, 11 Rieko Ioane, 10 Beauden Barrett, 9 Aaron Smith, 8 Kieran Read (c), 7 Sam Cane, 6 Liam Squire, 5 Scott Barrett, 4 Sam Whitelock, 3 Nepo Laulala, 2 Dane Coles, 1 Kane Hames 

Replacements: 16 Codie Taylor, 17 Wyatt Crockett, 18 Ofa Tu'ungafasi, 19 Patrick Tuipulotu, 20 Matt Todd, 21 Tawera Kerr-Barlow, 22 Lima Sopoaga, 23 David Havili

Date: Saturday, October 7

Venue: Newlands, Cape Town

Kick-off: 17:05 local (15:05 GMT)

Referee: Jérôme Garcès (France)

Assistant referees: Romain Poite (France), Shuhei Kubo (Japan)

TMO: Rowan Kitt (England)

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