CAPE TOWN – In 1985 the All Blacks scored four tries to nil against the Pumas in Buenos Aires, but still couldn’t beat the boot of the brilliant home team flyhalf Hugo Porta, who kicked four penalties and three drop goals in a 21-all draw.
That’s the closest the Pumas have come to victory against the famed men in black in 28 Test matches.
Now, with the Jaguares success in reaching the Super Rugby final, and a very vulnerable All Blacks match line-up, the hosts have reason to be optimistic that this weekend could finally be the one in which Argentina get a first win against the All Blacks.
I wouldn’t at all be surprised with a Pumas win. It would obviously be an upset but it wouldn’t be a shock. The Pumas, who are the Jaguares in another playing strip, have continuity on their side.
The same blokes having been playing alongside each other for the past four years. The All Blacks, with five new caps in the match 23, have left behind a core group of 10 players. They also have the likes of first choice midfielders Ryan Crotty and Sonny Bill Williams injured. I agree that there never is a weak All Blacks team but there is a fragility and vulnerability about the line-up for Saturday.
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The backs are still potent and the starting pack is reasonable without being awe-inspiring. The bench wouldn’t scare the Pumas.
I am looking forward to this match and I think the bookies have got it wrong with the 12.5 points handicap.
This translated in lay terms means you can either bet on the All Blacks to win by 13 or more to beat the handicap or bet on the Pumas to not lose by 13 or more. I am putting R2000 on the Pumas for the latter.
This will win me back R3800.
The Springboks at Ellis Park will also be too strong for a very dodgy-looking Wallabies match 23. I like the fact that Bok coach Rassie Erasmus is prepared to mix and match and expose his entire training squad to game time in the first two Rugby Championship matches against Australia and New Zealand.
The bookies have the Boks by minus 5.5 points, which means you can either bet on the Boks to win by six or more or for Australia not to be beaten by six or more.
I am putting down R2000 to win back R3800 for the Boks to win by six or more.
I think it will be a comfortable 10 plus points victory.
The Ellis Park factor is always big for any team that plays against the Springboks. Australia’s record at Ellis Park is one win from 10, which was a 11-9 win back in 1963. The Wallabies, in the last two decades, have had minimal success in South Africa.
Add in the emotion around a farewell to the late James Small and Jonny Clegg, whose music is synonymous with any Springbok Test match, and Australia doesn’t stand a chance.
Rassie’s picked a good enough side to continue South Africa’s dominance in South Africa against the Wallabies.
It also says a lot about the Boks’ playing depth, when you include the best of those playing in Europe, that Rassie could send 15 players to New Zealand in advance..
* Kevin Ferguson is the chief executive of Highbury Media and a leading sports betting authority. Follow him on www.moneymansa.co.za