The mood in Australian rugby has lifted almost overnight with back-to-back wins over the World Cup champions from South Africa when underdogs in both. The Wallabies haven’t won three Tests in a row since 2017 which says a lot about the inconsistency that has frustrated fans.
All eyes are on Townsville on Saturday. The Wallabies get a shot at continuing their upswing in form against Argentina and the All Blacks and the Springboks meet in the 100th Test between these fierce rugby rivals.
The Rugby Championship Betting Tips
Australia v Argentina
Sat, September 25, Queensland Country Bank Stadium, Townsville 8.05pm (AEST)
The Wallabies have been starved of a streak of success for so long there is no way the intensity will drop against Argentina. Credit to coach Dave Rennie. He is building consistency with consistent selections. You can see combinations developing. The Samu Kerevi-Len Ikitau centre pairing is a good one. Equally, they are developing some consistency with wingers Marika Koroibete and Andrew Kellaway. In the pack, non-stop flanker Michael Hooper and Rob Valetini are developing an understanding too as are locks Matt Philip and Izack Rodda.
Starting prop Taniela Tupou in Brisbane last weekend was a belated selection move but it paid off in a huge way with his strong-running involvement in three of the four tries. He can be a trump again in Townsville. Los Pumas are playing The Rugby Championship without some of their top props. The sight of the Argentinian scrum backpedalling against the All Blacks at Suncorp Stadium last weekend was rare indeed. Losing some scrum edge has taken away some of the Argentinian mojo because they are not the same side that pulled off that great 25-15 boilover against the All Blacks last November.
The Argentinians did have, perhaps, five attacking lineouts within rolling maul range of the Kiwi line last weekend and didn’t convert one to a try. That makes Argentinian hooker Julian Montoya a good bet at $3 (TAB) to score an Any Time Try because they will have worked on rectifying that.
This is a tough game for the Wallabies. They have to measure up again as a pack against older, toughened Pumas forwards. Flyhalf Quade Cooper saw a long cutout pass as being on in the second half against the Springboks last weekend and deliberately didn’t throw it. He has to show the same care against Argentina.
You can fancy the Wallabies at $1.90 to cover the 11.5 points start they are giving away because the Argentinians are struggling for scorepower.
After four losses to South Africa and the All Blacks, this is the Test the Argentinians feel they can win. That will give them extra punch. As well, former Wallabies coaches Mario Ledesma and Michael Cheika are in the Argentinian coaches’ box to pull a few tricks. To me, that will give other punters a feel for Wallabies 1-12 at $2.90.
New Zealand v South Africa
Sat, September 25, Queensland Country Bank Stadium, Townsville 5.05pm (AEST)
Those suggesting this will be a clearcut win for the All Blacks have little concept of the magnitude of All Blacks v Springboks Tests. Let’s hope the 100th edition of this classic rivalry lives up to the history. The Springboks were definitely caught out by the tempo that the Wallabies played the game at after the slower, more grinding series against the British and Irish Lions. The Boks aren’t going to try to lift their tempo against the Kiwis, they are going to do everything to slow the game down. Stoppages are their friend, lineouts. Cynical breaks for phantom injuries and extra use of the magic sponge in the Townsville heat...the Boks will try everything to bring this Test back to their speed. It all hinges on a herculean performance from the forwards. Expect plenty of kicking, pressure and no running from their own half. No Cheslin Kolbe on the wing is a huge blow for the Boks because he has the magic feet to score a try from nothing.
The All Blacks rested some stars last weekend just for this Test. Flyhalf Beauden Barrett, lock Brodie Retallick, hooker Codie Taylor and backrower Akira Ioane all return.