A battle for the title ensues in the Rugby Championship. Bet Central explores the key battles in the titanic clashes that will take place, first in Melbourne and then in Johannesburg.
Australia v New Zealand: Scrum Duel To Take centre stage
Ethan de Groot is in great form for the All Blacks, he struggled to stand out during the domestic season as the Highlanders had a tough time in Super Rugby Pacific. He has come into his own with the All Blacks and shown his worth against renowned scrummagers like Frans Malherbe.
This week he goes up against another man mountain in Wallabies captain Allan Ala’alatoa who himself has not been at his vintage best for the Wallabies as they lost both their games in the Rugby Championship thus far, but he is more than capable of producing a big performance.
The scrum battle between these 2 players beyond all other aspects will be intriguing, they aren’t universally renowned for their scrumming, but have often got the upper hand over players considered to be more adept in the set piece. Whoever gains ascendancy will give his side a notable advantage.
Australia v New Zealand: Athletic 13s Square Off
The players who square off at outside centre this weekend are far from the finished products. Rieko Ioane has his moments of defensive weakness, but his pace is electric and his feet often bamboozle defenders and aid the All Blacks’ flamboyant style.
Across him is an athletic freak, Jordan Petaia. He burst onto the scene 4 years ago as a 19-year-old bolter for the Wallabies. He hasn’t quite developed like he was expected to. His ball skills have improved, but are not quite there yet for an outside centre.
Petaia’s pace and power make him such a handful though and in his battle with Ioane, both players will want to show their explosiveness. It should be a super battle.
South Africa v Argentina: Battle For Supremacy At 5
One is a battle-hardened Test veteran, the other, a lock who would have 50 Test caps if he played for any other nation. Tomas Lavanini will go up against Marvin Orie in a lineout battle at Ellis Park on Saturday.
The Stormers lock has been unlucky to be stuck beyond a plethora of quality locks in the Springbok setup. Orie is a brilliant lineout operator and will give Lavanini a tough time in the set-piece in Johannesburg.
Though Lavanini is a competent lineout ace, his strengths lie in his work around the park. He is a menacing ball carrier and a brutal defender. His discipline has improved significantly over the past few seasons. If Orie gets one over the accomplished Lavanini, he may prove worthy of a World Cup squad spot.
South Africa v Argentina: Physical Inside Centre Confrontation
Santiago Chocobares looked destined to be a star when he played a starring role in the Pumas’ 1st ever victory over the All Blacks in 2020, he wasn’t your typical crafty Argentine inside centre, he was big and strong and extremely physical.
He did not kick on from that promise, but he has featured for Los Pumas in patches, but he seems to finally be finding his bearings again. He is seen as the next in line after Jeronimo de la Fuente and will have to prove that against Damian de Allende.
Doogz as he is affectionately known has been a focal point of the Springboks’ gameplan and he will have his hands full with Chocobares or maybe it’ll be Chocobares who will have his hands full. It remains to be seen what will unfold in Johannesburg.