Blacks and Boks in a long-distance title fight

New Zealand and South Africa, both leaders of the Rugby Championship on 14 points, will face off in a distance duel in Auckland and Durban on Saturday for the final crown, on the sixth and final day.

The All Blacks, looking for their third consecutive victory in this flagship competition in the southern hemisphere (knowing that South Africa could not participate in the 2020 edition due to Covid-19), have, however , advantage over the Springboks thanks to a better overall. goal average (+41 against +28).

Edging out (39-37) Australia (3rd, 10 points) in Melbourne after a completely crazy encounter, New Zealand are unbeaten at Eden Park since 1994.

Criticized for their inconsistent results since the arrival of Ian Foster in charge (six defeats in their last ten games), they can count on the support of the 47,000 expected for this decisive game against the Wallabies on Saturday (9.05 h). , whose last win against the All Blacks in Auckland was in 1986.

To be honest, we haven’t been too proud of some of our performances lately.“, said Jordie Barrett, starter in the centre.

The Australians, meanwhile, remain frustrated by French referee Mathieu Raynal’s decision to disallow their opener Bernard Foley in the 80th minute of the match in Melbourne when they were leading.

The meeting will take place in a very tense atmosphere

Believing that Foley was taking too long to take a penalty, Mr. Raynal reversed in Black’s favor, giving them a scrum. After some great work from his forwards, Jordie Barrett managed to level beyond regulation time, giving his team the win.

Despite the support given to Mathieu Raynal by various figures in world rugby, such as the Welsh referee Nigel Owens or the former England player Andy Goode, the controversy increased all week in Australia.

It is therefore feared that Saturday’s encounter will take place in a very tense atmosphere, although Wallabies coach Dave Rennie assured on Thursday that his players had “put aside the disappointment of the last test“. “There were a lot of positives last week but we lost so we have to do better this week…»

For this encounter, the Blacks, who have their third line Ardie Savea back after the birth of their third child, will be guided by their second line Sam Whitelock in the absence of Sam Cane, through injury.

The Wallabies, who on Thursday lost their second row Darcy Swain, suspended for six weeks after a dangerous gesture on Quinn Tupaea last week, will be led by their mainstay James Slipper.

Return of the experienced Frans Steyn to the Boks

The All Blacks, however, do not have full control over their destiny. Tied on points with South Africa, who face Argentina in Durban nine hours later, they need a win to improve and maximize their lead on goal average over the Boks (+13 before this final day Springboks who can win). the competition for the first time since 2019.

For this game, Boks manager Jacques Nienaber made just two changes from the team lined up in Argentina, banking on the experience of versatile debutant Frans Steyn (35, 77 caps) and the third line Pieter-Steph Du Toit (30 years, 63 games). , voted best player in the world in 2019.

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