Three Key Battles: New Zealand v South Africa

This is probably the most eagerly anticipated clash of the shortened 2019 Rugby Championship and should give us a clear indication about which of these will come out on top later this year when they meet in the pool stage of the World Cup.

Last year the Springboks won at the very same stadium (Westpac Stadium, Wellington). Could there be a repeat?

  1. Shannon Frizell v Pieter-Steph du Toit

Frizell comes into this contest with just four caps but he has had a strong season in Super Rugby for the Highlanders and he will be full of confidence against du Toit.

The South African is one of only two forwards retained following South Africa’s impressive win over Australia last weekend, he played a starring role with his deft kick through which led to Lood de Jager’s try.

Credit: Instagram (@kingnoni676)

A titanic battle Frizell is definitely in form but du Toit is becoming undroppable for Rassie Erasmus.

2. Beauden Barrett v Willie le Roux

New Zealand’s superstar fly-half Beauden Barrett being deployed so the All Blacks can deploy three times Super Rugby winning ten Richie Mo’unga. Barrett certainly has the pace, control, tactical kicking and defence to play fullback it will be interesting to see how he is utilised in attack from the back.

The South African, le Roux. Dangerous attacker with electric feet, alongside two lethal finishers in Cheslin Kolbe and Makazole Mapimpi out on the wings, New Zealand will certainly have their hands full.

Credit: Instagram (@wjjleroux)

Barrett at fullback could be a sign of things to come for New Zealand whilst le Roux is tried and tested and is among the best in the world in his position.

3. Sonny Bill Williams v Lukhanyo Am

The return of Sonny Bill Williams against one of South Africa’s newest stars Am. The six cap Springbok will provide stiff opposition for New Zealand’s poster boy. Am is a strong carrier and his pairing with de Allende is certainly there to provide physicality so New Zealanders will be hoping that Sonny Bill Williams is up for a testing battle following his injury.

We all know what Williams can do. He’s a freak.

Credit: Instagram (@sonnybillwilliams)

Definitely one to watch to see if South Africa look to expose Williams lack of match practice and then if they do to watch how he responds, knowing him probably with one of his outrageous offloads or a thundering hit. He is the ultimate big game player.

It was hard to pick three all 15 of the one-on-one match ups could have been on here. New Zealand v South Africa is always a cracker, this is set to be no different.

Two Teams Setting Pace in Premiership

England’s domestic competition is among the toughest in the world, it’s so competitive. There are two runaway leaders at the moment though, Saracens and Exeter Chiefs are leading the way and both are unbeaten so far eight games into the season.

The last three finals have been between the two sides, Saracens have won twice sandwiching Exeter’s solo win in the 2016/17 season.

Both teams sit on 38 points, third placed Wasps are trailing the two table toppers by 14 points. Both teams have scored a remarkable 36 tries in their opening eight games, averaging four and a half tries a game which has seen the remarkable teams both pick up six try scoring bonus points each.

Even with a large number of internationals these teams continue to lead the way. The depth of both teams is frightening, for example Saracens have the luxury of Owen Farrell, Alex Lozowski and the potentially great Max Malins to choose from. Exeter’s power game is famed and with good reason with all four of their best props recently playing for their respective countries in the November internationals Alec Hepburn, Harry Williams, Ben Moon (all England) and Tomas Francis (Wales).

There is no doubt the talent these squads possess and they also have absolutely brilliant coaches, Rob Baxter has taken Exeter from the middle of the Championship to the summit of English rugby in remarkable fashion and continues to develop his squad into one of the most enviable in Europe.


Mark McCall at Saracens took the reigns from Brendan Venter and made the squad his own bringing in academy stars like Maro Itoje and Owen Farrell into a team led by South African and Namibian expats notably Schalk Brits, Jacques Burger and Ernst Joubert.

These teams look set to battle it out for supremacy yet again and their first meeting of the season just before Christmas at Sandy Park could well be the game of the season in what is already shaping up to be an enthralling two horse race for the Premiership.