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Preview: All Blacks v South Africa

NZRU

<a href="http://www.sportal.co.nz" target="_blank">sportal.co.nz</a>     01 Sep 2006     NZRU

VENUE & TIME: Royal Bafokeng Stadium, Rustenburg, Sunday September 3, 1:00 NZT.

HEAD TO HEAD: Played 69 - All Blacks 38, South Africa 28, Draws 3.

LAST TIME: August 27, 2006 (Pretoria) - All Blacks 45 - 26 South Africa.

WALKING WOUNDED: Fullback Leon MacDonald (hip injury), flanker Reuben Thorne (broken thumb) and Greg Somerville(achilles injury) are out of consideration for this Test but tighthead prop Carl Hayman returns after his head injury against Australia. So too does second five-eighths Aaron Mauger.

FORM: Things just go from bad to worse for the home team. During the week coach Jake White criticised the form of some of his most senior players but said due to the lack of players beneath he is unable to drop them. The way in which the All Blacks put potential danger behind them in Pretoria suggests there is a stream of form and confidence running right through the side which is almost unprecedented in All Blacks, and certainly Tri Nations, history.

WHO'S HOT: Mils Muliaina has been outstanding in recent Test matches whether at fullback or centre. Sitiveni Sivivatu made light of his first Test of the year with a top display in Pretoria while first five-eighths Dan Carter produced more deft touches. Flanker Jerry Collins was outstanding when appearing as a replacement and becoming a playmaker in his involvement in two tries. Centre Jaque Fourie revealed that traditional back flair is not lacking in South Africa but he saw too few chances. Lock Victor Matfield remains a nuisance in lineout play while halfback Fourie du Preez started like a dynamo but had few chances to shine later in the game.

WE THINK: South Africa's plight, while unfortunate, was obvious from its attempted 'physical' approach late in the game but with the All Blacks needing to have a solid start, and a greater desire to hold the ball, this game spells trouble for the home team, even played at altitude. With time to become accustomed the only worry for the All Blacks is complacency. However, the chance of a series victory in South Africa has been targeted as another goal for the side. It is difficult to see anything other than an emphatic second series win.

TEAMS:

New Zealand: 1 -Tony Woodcock, 2 - Andrew Hore, 3 - Carl Hayman, 4 - Chris Jack, 5 - Ali Williams, 6 - Jerry Collins, 7 - Richie McCaw (Captain), 8 - Rodney So'oialo, 9 - Jimmy Cowan, 10 - Dan Carter, 11 - Sitiveni Sivivatu, 12 - Aaron Mauger, 13 - Mils Muliaina, 14 - Joe Rokocoko, 15 - Doug Howlett.

Reserves: 16 - Anton Oliver, 17 - Neemia Tialata, 18 - Jason Eaton, 19 - Marty Holah, 20 - Byron Kelleher, 21 - Luke McAlister, 22 - Rico Gear.

South Africa: 1 - Os du Randt. 2 - John Smit (Captain), 3 - BJ Botha, 4 - Johann Muller, 5 - Victor Matfield, 6 - Pedrie Wannenburg, 7 - Pierre Spies, 8 - AJ Venter, 9 - Fourie du Preez, 10 - Andre Pretorius, 11 - Bryan Habana, 12 - Jean de Villiers, 13 - Wynand Olivier, 14 - Akona Ndungane, 15 - Jaque Fourie.

Reserves: 16 - Chiliboy Ralepelle, 17 - Lawrence Sephaka, 18 - Albert van den Berg, 19 - Jacques Cronje, 20 - Ruan Pienaar, 21 - Butch James, 22 - Breyton Paulse.

REFEREE: C White

Touch judges: A Lewis, E Darriere
TMO: H Watkins