Rugby Championship Round 3 Preview

Rugby Championship Round 3 Preview

Game 1: New Zealand vs. Argentina

Having comfortably despatched Australia both home and away, the All Blacks welcome Argentina to Auckland as huge competition favourites.

In the first two rounds New Zealand beat Australia 47-29 and 27-16, but Argentina have lost both of their games. The first being a crushing defeat away in Johannesburg, as the Pumas lost 73-13. However, there were signs of much greater resilience and skill in the second game, as they only narrowly lost 22-17.

Dan Carter should return at 10 for New Zealand; however, they are still battling with a number of other injuries.

Talking Rugby Union Southern hemisphere correspondent, Scotty Donaldson, reports that the World Champions "do look set to allow young stars Steven Luatua and Francis Sailli the opportunity to shine at international test match level."

Captain and inspirational flanker, Juan Martin Fernandez Lobbe, makes a welcome return to the Argentinian pack; while Felipe Contepomi is left on the bench.

"Argentina will struggle to contain the All Blacks," said Scotty, "they will probably put up a brave fight for the first sixty minutes. I hope this isn't a one sided match, but Argentina will do well to restrict the All Blacks to a margin of under thirty points."

Australia vs. South Africa

The wounded Wallabies, who have not yet recorded a vicoty in the 2013 tournament, host South Africa on Saturday night.

Australia have tried to add flair and spark to their backline, by selecting the dazzling Quade Cooper to start at 10 instead of Matt Toomua. Jesse Mogg is moved to the bench, whilst Israel Folau is set to be more involved in the game from fullback.

Folau will be an exciting prospect to watch if he gets the chance to exploit any open space, like he did on many occasions in an impressive Super Rugby season.

The changes are sure to add flair and pace, but how will they stand up defensively to a no doubt strong and bulky Springbok side?

South Africa have bulked up their side, however, bringing in Bismark du Plessis to hooker and Flip van der Merwe at lock. The South African selections already hint at the tested formula of powerful strong forward play combined with the boot of Morne Steyn.

A vastly important game for South Africa, who will need to win to keep their challenge for the title with New Zealand alive.

Scotty Donaldson commented that: "this makes for an intriguing match where the Wallabies will aim to run the big Springboks around the park, while South Africa will try to out muscle the Wallabies. It will be a real cat and mouse match and I am picking it to be close."