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The rugby “Big Game” of 2014 occurs tomorrow in Ellis Park Stadium, Johannesburg when New Zealand and South Africa meet in their second match of the Rugby Championship. The All Blacks have already won this year’s four-nation, southern hemisphere title with a four wins, no loss, one draw tally.
The Saturday contest pits the number one and number two ranked teams in the world, which have won four of the seven World Cups. (The Boks first cup victory came against New Zealand in 1995, and made into the Clint Eastwood movie “Invictus”).
The All Blacks have won five in a row dating back to 2012. September dates played in New Zealand, October dates in South Africa. Results as follows
Sept 2012 – NZ 21- SA 11
Oct. 2012 - NZ 32 – SA 16
Sept 2013 - NZ 29 – SA 15
Oct. 2013 - NZ 38 – SA 27
Sept 2014 - NZ 14 – SA 10
A Springboks win would prove a major confidence boost, a year before the RWC in England. An All Black second victory this year would reinforce their image as team that cannot be beaten, and the much deserved betting favorite to take home a second in a row William Webb Ellis RWC trophy.
South Africa: 15 Willie le Roux, 14 Cornal Hendricks, 13 Jan Serfontein, 12 Jean de Villiers (c), 11 Bryan Habana, 10 Handrè Pollard, 9 Francois Hougaard; 1 Tendai Mtawarira, 2 Bismarck du Plessis, 3 Jannie du Plessis, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 5 Victor Matfield, 6 Marcell Coetzee, 7 Tebo Mohoje, 8 Duane Vermeulen/Schalk Burger.
Replacements: 16 Adriaan Strauss, 17 Trevor Nyakane, 18 Marcel van der Merwe, 19 Bakkies Botha, 20 Schalk Burger/Warren Whiteley, 21 Cobus Reinach, 22 Pat Lambie, 23 JP Pietersen.
New Zealand: 15 Israel Dagg, 14 Ben Smith, 13 Conrad Smith, 12 Malakai Fekitoa, 11 Julian Savea, 10 Beauden Barrett, 9 Aaron Smith; 1 Joe Moody, 2 Keven Mealamu, 3 Owen Franks, 4 Jeremy Thrush, 5 Sam Whitelock, 6 Jerome Kaino, 7 Richie McCaw (c), 8 Kieran Read.
Replacements: 16 Dane Coles, 17 Ben Franks, 18 Charlie Faumuina, 19 Steven Luatua, 20 Liam Messam, 21 Tawera Kerr-Barlow, 22 Colin Slade, 23 Ryan Crotty.