Boks focussed on Auckland before Durban showdown with Argentina
DURBAN, South Africa : South Africa will be glued to their hotel television sets on Saturday as they hope for an Australia upset over New Zealand ahead of their own Rugby Championship finale against Argentina later in the day at King’s Park in Durban.
South Africa are level with New Zealand on 14 points at the top of the table, and an All Black bonus-point win would leave them with a mountain to climb.
New Zealand have a +41 points-difference for and against, and the Boks +28, but the South Africans will at least know what is needed to clinch the trophy ahead of time.
“We’re definitely going to watch the morning (South Africa time) game – we need to know what happens in that match so that we know what we need to do against Argentina, and the same applies to them,” South Africa captain Siya Kolisi told reporters on Friday.
“As things stand all four teams can still win the competition, but regardless of what happens in the match between Australia and New Zealand, it will still be a proper final for us and the Pumas.”
The Boks had a game of two halves last weekend in Buenos Aires, where they outclassed their hosts in the first 40 minutes and would have led by more than 22-6 with better execution.
A huge fightback from Argentina after the interval put South Africa under intense pressure and only late tries in the final few minutes saw them claim a 36-20 victory.
“I don’t think they’ll change their mindset going into this game,” Kolisi said. “Their scrums went well last week, and they would have worked on their mauls. And depending on the outcome of the other match, they may have a chance of winning the competition for the first time.”
It would take a sizeable swing in points for Argentina to claim a maiden Rugby Championship crown, though coach Michael Cheika says winning away from home in Durban is as good a motivator as any.
“We are always motivated every week, I don’t think one week’s motivation leads to another. We are motivated by many things in relation to where we want to end up as a team,” he told reporters.
“We have a lot of drive as a team. This week we probably had our best training sessions of the whole time we have been together since the start of July.”