New Zealand vs. South Africa – North Harbour Stadium, 16 September 2017
Masterclass – that’s probably the best way to describe the rugby lesson New Zealand handed their rivals South Africa.
The All Blacks pitched up with a few question marks over the 2017 season having been beaten by the British and Irish Lions. Australia showed fighting spirit against them in the two opening rounds of the Rugby Championship, and New Zealand were level against a struggling Los Pumas side after 60 minutes merely a week ago.
Then came the Boks on Saturday, and New Zealand outplayed, outskilled, and to no surprise, outscored the South Africans by a record 57-0.
Scoring eight tries to none, this All Blacks team played a near-perfect match much to the despair of the Springboks. In fact, the All Blacks probably left two points on the pitch when Beauden Barrett missed one conversion. Impressively, the Boks only had one real opportunity to get on the board, which was a missed penalty shot in the first 10 minutes of the match.
For South Africa, it’s time to get home and back to the drawing board before meeting Australia in two weeks’ time. For the mighty All Blacks, it seems all but another Rugby Championship in the bag.
Australia vs. Argentina – Canberra Stadium, 16 September 2017
Australia produced some magic in the second half of their match against Argentina to record their first victory in the 2017 Rugby Championship. Being in control for much of the contest, they eventually flexed their muscles to record a bonus-point victory over their counterparts.
For Argentina, it’s four losses in as many tries. It seems they struggle to play their best rugby week in and week out in the second and third years after a World Cup, and 2017 hasn’t been an exception. Much was expected after the display against the All Blacks a week ago, but in the end they couldn’t match the defensive effort this week.
With the Wallabies cranking up the attack in the second half, the Argentines kept missing tackles and had to play catch up for most of the second half. With New Zealand coming off of a record-breaking score against South Africa, Argentina will have to find their World Cup magic and passion from their home crowd to stand a chance against the world’s best.
For Australia, it will be a much easier trip full of confidence heading to South Africa, but even they will know the danger of a wounded Springbok side.