South Africa vs. Australia – Free State Stadium: 30 September 2017
Another so-close-yet-so-far case for the Springboks and the Wallabies as they played out to their second draw of the season against one another. With South Africa desperate to put away the demons of their last match against New Zealand, they were left to rue their missed chances on a day that should have kept their title challenge alive.
The Springboks came out of the blocks firing and had the Wallabies under pressure with an expansive style of play by running from deep and trying to break the defensive line from the first minute. Australia, however, stuck to their guns and did not give an inch on defence with Michael Hooper ever impressive at the breakdown halting the Bok charge. Making close to 200 tackles in a match where the Springboks accumulated the most running metres of their campaign, the Wallabies showed true grit and determination not to lose the match.
With a bit of hair pulling and players charging one another off the ball, all seemed to have been left out on the field as the Boks had the opportunity in the 79th minute to seal the deal. Once again, as is the story of their season, they were unable to hit the nail in the coffin, and both teams will have to reflect on what could have been.
Australia and South Africa will now fight for second position as the Wallabies travel to Argentina to face a wounded Los Pumas, whereas South Africa will have to pull their weight if they are to inflict any sort of revenge on the All Blacks.
Argentina vs. New Zealand – Jose Amalfitani Stadium: 30 September 2017
Unstoppable, unbeaten and ever impressive. These are the words and phrases to describe the first 40 minutes of the All Blacks against Los Pumas. Retaining yet another Rugby Championship title, the world champs showed their true class in a 30-minute blitz where they outplayed and outscored the Argentine side at will.
The All Blacks went almost a point per minute, putting Argentina to the sword in the first 30 minutes and racing to a 26-point lead to effectively win the Rugby Championship. Argentina did put up a fight in the second half, conceding only one try for the next 40 minutes. The All Blacks overcame a disjointed and error-ridden second half by defending like Trojans and never gave a sniff at a comeback to Los Pumas.
Argentina will now aim to get their first victory of the Rugby Championship when they tackle a desperate Wallabies side, and the mighty All Blacks will want to reap the rewards of a new management strategy and inflict even more pain on the Springboks.