The Rugby Championship Round 6 Preview - Who Are You Picking?

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The Rugby Championship Round 6 Preview - Who Are You Picking?
 

The 2013 Rugby Championship title is up for grabs when New Zealand meet South Africa at Johannesburg's Ellis Park this weekend.

Anything other than South Africa beating New Zealand by more than seven points while scoring four tries and preventing the All Blacks from doing the same will see New Zealand retain their title.

You could argue that it is a shame that South Africa failed to clinch a bonus point last week against Australia - or that New Zealand did against Argentina - as then it would be closer to a 'winner-takes-all' clash.

Both teams are making changes ahead of the showdown. New Zealand welcome back captain Richie McCaw and Charlie Faumuina gets a start at tighthead prop. The All Blacks have settled on an experienced starting line-up with plenty of spark and energy to come off the bench if required.

After being red carded in the sides' previous meeting, Bismarck du Plessis may feel he has a score to settle, according to Talking Rugby Union's Southern Hemisphere Rugby Correspondent Scott Donaldson.

"Du Plessis is the best hooker in the world and will be crucial as the Springboks attempt to dismantle the All Blacks upfront," he said. "Juandre Kruger also gets a start at lock.

"This match will be a cracker and worth waking up at 3:30am in the morning for (NZ time). It is awesome having an All Blacks test match where you don't know who is going to win. 

"The Springboks knowing that they need to score four tries may be forced into playing a different style of game. The All Blacks have great defence which the Springboks will do well to get four tries past.

"I think while the Springboks will want to celebrate The Beast's 50th test in style, that knowing they need to score four tries will weigh heavily on their mind. I am picking the Springboks to win the battle as they thrive with the physical style of game, but the All Blacks will be too classy across the park. 

"This is the toughest challenge of 2013 for the All Blacks and they have only won 3 out of 13 games at Ellis Park, but I don't think playing in South Africa holds the demons that it once did - New Zealand to win by six points."

Meanwhile, it should not be forgotten that Argentina host Australia in the battle to avoid the wooden spoon. The match offers Argentina what is perhaps their best chance yet to break their Championship duck.

Given the problems the Australians are undergoing and how well Argentina pushed New Zealand in their last match, the Wallabies face a serious challenge, although they do have Will Genia back.

"If Argentina can keep the fitness up for 80 minutes then they will win," says Donaldson. "They are starting with the experienced Felipe Contepomi.

"If the Wallabies start the way they finished against the Springboks then they should win, while the Pumas need to start and finish the way they started in the first half against the All Blacks.  They will dominate the Wallabies upfront, but I wonder if they are good enough to contain the Wallabies backs?

"While I want to see the Wallabies win, I think Argentina will run out of steam in the final 20 minutes - Wallabies to win by three."

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