skysport.co.nz, Thursday, 8 July 2010
VENUE & TIME: Eden Park, Auckland, Saturday July 10, 19:35 NZT.
HEAD TO HEAD: Played 78 - New Zealand 42, South Africa33, Draws 3.
September 12, 2009 (Hamilton) - New Zealand 29-32 South Africa.
New Zealand goes into its latest Tri Nations campaign without lock Ali Williams and hooker Andrew Hore while first five-eighths Stephen Donald and Mike Delany have also succumbed to injuries.
The most notable absentees for South Africa are outstanding halfback Fourie du Preez, hooker Bismark de Plessis and flanker Heinrich Brussow. Bakkies Botha came through an injury scare earlier in the week to take his place in the side.
Both sides had cause to be happy with their early season form, although the South Africans had to step up a gear against Italy after a disappointing first Test, but there was no doubting the world champion's form in the second.
New Zealand had a disappointing second Test against Wales and the challenge ahead is to see if it can put that effort behind it and to gain the sort of play over 80 minutes that was seen in the first half against Ireland and the second half of the first Test against Wales.
The respective first five-eighths of the sides, Dan Carter for New Zealand and Morne Steyn for South Africa, have been dominating individuals in games this year.
Steyn, not renowned for his running play touched down twice in a 26-point haul in the 55-11 win over Italy in East London while Carter's penalty kicking form severely punished Wales at Hamilton as he finished with 17 points after some of his most consistent play in the last two years.
However, both will be dependent on the quality of ball their packs can provide them with. South Africa will be looking to dominate the tight, especially the lineouts, while New Zealand will be looking to counter South Africa's strength in the loose where No.8 Pierre Spies is one of the most dynamic players in the world. Richie McCaw, Kieran Read and Jerome Kaino will be key performers in New Zealand gaining the quality of ball needed to set up the foundation for a win.
This is a contest with all the hallmarks of the great New Zealand-South Africa contests for the last 90 years. It really does appear to be a case where the team that blinks first will find itself on the losing end.
This should see a powerful struggle up front. South Africa will look to kick for position and avoid allowing New Zealand the chance to counter attack while New Zealand will be looking to keep control of the ball, keep it out of the way of potential intercept situations and moving the South Africans around.
Desire is high among the New Zealanders who were stung last year and that should be enough to carry them home to a narrow victory.
1.Tony Woodcock, 2.Keven Mealamu, 3.Owen Franks, 4.Brad Thorn, 5.Tom Donnelly, 6.Jerome Kaino, 7.Richie McCaw (captain), 8.Kieran Read, 9.Jimmy Cowan, 10.Dan Carter, 11.Josevata Rokocoko, 12.Ma'a Nonu, 13.Conrad Smith, 14.Cory Jane, 15. Mils Muliaina.
Reserves: 16.Corey Flynn, 17.Ben Franks, 18.Sam Whitelock, 19.Liam Messam, 20.Piri Weepu, 21.Aaron Cruden, 22.Richard Kahui.
1. Gurthro Steenkamp, 2. John Smit (c), 3. Jannie du Plessis, 4. Bakkies Botha, 5. Victor Matfield, 6. Schalk Burger, 7. Francois Louw, 8.Pierre Spies, 9. Ricky Januarie, 10. Morne Steyn, 11. Bryan Habana, 12. Wynand Oliver, 13. Jaque Fourie, 14. Jean de Villiers, 15. Zane Kirchner
Reserves: 16. Chiliboy Ralepelle, 17. BJ Botha, 18. Andries Bekker, 19. Danie Rossouw, 20. Ruan Pienaar, 21. Butch James, 22. Gio Aplon.