The Springboks will be looking to land a fatal blow to the All Blacks’ Rugby Championship aspirations, when they take them on in the second match of the competition at Ellis Park on Saturday (13 August).
The Boks won the first match at the Mbombela Stadium in Nelspruit comprehensively, and they have a golden opportunity to make it two wins in a row against the three-time world champions.
South Africa made just about the perfect start to their Rugby Championship campaign in Mbombela last week, where they trounced a hapless New Zealand 26-10. The 16 point victory was the Springboks’ highest winning margin over the All Blacks in the professional era. And now the Boks have a rare opportunity to make it back-to-back victories. Captain Siya Kolisi and his charges are raring to go.
“We have never been in this situation before where we can win two games in a row and also for the competition, it will put us in a good place going to Australia. We want to make sure we build momentum going into next year as well. Every game is important for us, there is a lot of us that haven’t played the All Blacks here so there is a lot of motivation behind it but we want to be the group that was able to win in SA back to back.”
New Zealand has lost five of its last six tests and has slumped from number one to number five in the rugby world rankings, their lowest ranking ever.
But despite their dismal run in recent months — any rugby pundit would argue — that to underestimate the three-time world champions would be a grave mistake. Kolisi believes that the New Zealanders will have a slight advantage in the dry highveld conditions.
“It was a bit wet in Mbombela, Eliis Park is very dry which plays into their hands. If they want to run, they will be able to run from anywhere but it’s not going to change what we want to do. We are still going to stay with our kicking game which works, for we are going to contest in the air is not on the ground but we are looking forward to a proper contest. Both benches are going to be important with a dry stadium and a lot of running rugby you are going to need guys to bring energy into the game.”
The last time these two heavyweights of world rugby met at Ellis Park was in the Rugby Championship in 2015, where the All Blacks triumphed by 27 to 20.