Rugby Championship R6: Springboks vs All Blacks, Pumas vs Wallabies

New Zealand have already claimed the Rugby Championship title for a third straight year, but there's still plenty to play for across the weekend.

The Wallabies succumbed to their sixth loss in eight games and pressure continues to mount on the players and the coach as they travel to Salta, while the Springboks will aim to prove their boilover in New Zealand wasn't a once off.

Read on for a complete preview of the weekend's games.

South Africa vs. New Zealand, Loftus Versfield, Pretoria

It's way too early to suggest that the Springboks are on their way back to being a force in world rugby again. But the buzz surrounding Saturday's fixture with the All Blacks in Pretoria suggests that they have certainly won back their compatriots' respect over the last couple of weeks.

This is a far cry from the sense of apprehension that gripped most South Africans ahead of the teams' first meeting of the year in Wellington, as the brutal 57-0 defeat at the hands of the All Blacks in Albany in 2017 was still very much fresh in the memory banks.

But Rassie Erasmus' Boks produced one of gutsiest performances in their history to hold on for a famous win that almost crippled the bookies, who had to pay out lots of money to those fortunate souls who had a bit to waste. Are the Boks back? Especially after backing up that result with a win against the Wallabies in Port Elizabeth last weekend?

That question may be answered this weekend at Loftus Versfeld, as the Boks try to go back-to-back against the All Blacks for the first time in nine years.

The All Blacks, however, don't seem to care if the Springboks are back or not. They are still hurting, and badly so, as they want to "right a wrong".

Ladies and gentlemen ... It's going to be a cracker.

How the Springboks can win ...

While the Springboks' defence has come along nicely in the last few weeks, they are rock bottom in almost all the attacking stats that matter. They made an astonishing amount of tackles in Wellington, but Erasmus knows that they must get their hands on more than 25 percent of the ball on a fast Loftus track that will suit the visitors' potent backs. The Boks' set pieces will also have to be excellent, while they must limit the amount of unforced errors. The platform of the rush defence and physicality in the tackle was laid in Wellington. Now it's time to add a bit of panache to the recipe as well.

How the All Blacks can win it ...

The All Blacks are the best team in the world when the match tempo reaches hyper speed. Even though the eagerly-awaited clash is being played in the thin air of the Highveld, they will still be looking to lift the tempo against the Boks. The All Blacks have a great record at Loftus, because they use their superior pace and skill to create opportunities for their dangerous backs. They can execute at high speed and seldom make the sort of rookie mistakes that was a hallmark of their performance in Wellington. Look for them to attack the South Africans in the wide channels.


South Africa: 15 - Willie le Roux, 14- Cheslin Kolbe, 13- Jesse Kriel, 12- Damian de Allende, 11- Aphiwe Dyantyi, 10- Handré Pollard, 9- Faf de Klerk, 8- Francois Louw, 7- Pieter-Steph du Toit, 6- Siya Kolisi (captain), 5- Franco Mostert, 4- Eben Etzebeth, 3- Frans Malherbe, 2- Malcolm Marx, 1- Steven Kitshoff,

Replacements: 16 Bongi Mbonambi, 17 Tendai Mtawarira, 18 Vincent Koch, 19 R.G. Snyman, 20 Sikhumbuzo Notshe, 21 Embrose Papier, 22 Elton Jantjies, 23 Damian Willemse

New Zealand: 15 Ben Smith, 14 Waisake Naholo, 13 Jack Goodhue, 12 Sonny Bill Williams, 11 Rieko Ioane, 10 Beauden Barrett, 9 Aaron Smith, 8 Kieran Read (captain), 7 Sam Cane, 6 Shannon Frizell, 5 Scott Barrett, 4 Sam Whitelock, 3 Owen Franks, 2 Codie Taylor, 1 Karl Tu'inukuafe.

Replacements: 16 Nathan Harris, 17 Tim Perry, 18 Ofa Tuungafasi, 19 Patrick Tuipulotu, 20 Ardie Savea, 21 TJ Perenara, 22-Richie Mo'unga, 23 Ryan Crotty.

Key match-up: Damian de Allende vs Sonny Bill Williams

The two heavyweight centres return to their respective teams following a time on the sidelines and could play a massive part in the outcome of Saturday's fixture.

De Allende was fantastic against the All Blacks in Wellington before he had to leave the field with a shoulder injury. He gave the Boks a lot of momentum on attack in the first half and kept the All Blacks busy in the vacuum. He also made some really big hits, and will have to set the tone of Bok backs on defence.

Williams returned to action against Argentina and got a couple of vital minutes under the belt ahead of the expected physical battle in Pretoria. The part-time boxer, though, could be the All Blacks' go-to man because of skill and not necessarily his power to try and get the better of the South Africans' rush defence.

Verdict: A Totteham Hospur fan tweeted on Wednesday night that "it's the belief that kills you" after Barcelona had scored again shortly after Spurs looked like were back in the game with a goal of their own. Dare Springboks supporters believe? Dare they believe that the Boks can beat the All Blacks? Again? What is sport if you don't? Springboks to edge the All Blacks by 4 in a thriller.

Argentina vs. Australia, Estadio Padre Ernesto Martearena, Salta

In a rare occurence, the Pumas will enter their match against the Wallabies as favourites. Downing the Australians on the Gold Coast just three weeks ago, plenty are expecting the Pumas to add to Australia's woes with a second defeat and send the tourists packing with the wooden spoon for the first time in Rugby Championship history.

It's the perfect opportunity for the Pumas to bounce back from their disappointing defeat to the All Blacks as they continue to build under Mario Ledesma and prove to be more than just the added extra in the competition. But they must find a way to block out the external pressure from their home supporters if they are to put the final nail in the Wallabies coffin.

As the Wallabies prepare for a Pumas onslaught, players have thrown their support behind their embattled coach, but the proof is in the pudding and six losses from eight matches is a pretty ugly pudding. Pressure is mounting and another defeat is sure to see the end of Michael Cheika and his coaching staff.

Staring down the barrel of their worst finish in the Rugby Championship, we will finally see the end of the Kurtley Beale fly-half experiment, but their recent defeats can't all be blamed on a midfield trial.

The Wallabies -- more like Wobblies -- look frazzled, confused and suffer from continual brain fades. They'll need more than the usual suspects - David Pocock, Michael Hooper and Will Genia - producing the goods to give Cheika any hope of getting onto the plane to Japan.

How Argentina win it

While the Pumas were dominated at scrum time last week, they will have the perfect opportunity to get on the front foot against the Wallabies, whose scrum has wobbled throughout the Rugby Championship. While Australia saw some consistency last week against the Springboks, if the Pumas are to put pressure on the visitors early, and get on side with referee Jaco Peyper, they should set up set piece that will be hard to stop.

How Australia win it

The Wallabies have shown glimpses of just how lethal their backline can be, but have struggled to produce consistently throughout the Rugby Championship. But if they're to avoid the wooden spoon and support their embattled coach their backline is going to have to fire for the full 80 minutes. Will Genia, Reece Hodge and Dane Haylett-Petty showed last week just how impressive the Wallabies can be, making ESPN's Team of the Week for Round 5, and with Bernard Foley returning to fly-half and Beale slotting back into his preferred inside centre position we should see a return to a more penetrative attacking line up. Marika Koroibete showed that he's hungry for the ball and if he and Israel Folau find space they're sure to terrorise the Pumas defence.


Argentina: 15 Emiliano Boffelli, 14 Matias Moroni, 13 Matias Orlando, 12 Jeronimo de la Fuente, 11 Ramiro Moyano, 10 Nicolas Sanchez, 9 Gonzalo Bertranou, 8 Javier Ortega Desio, 7 Marcos Kremer, 6 Pablo Matera, 5 Tomas Lavanini, 4 Guido Petti,3 Ramiro Herrera, 2 Agustin Creevy, 1 Nahuel Tetaz Chaparro.

Replacements: 16 Julian Montoya, 17 Santiago Garcia Botta, 18 Santiago Medrano, 19 Matias Alemanno, 20 Juan Manuel Leguizamon, 21 Tomas Cubelli, 22 Santiago Gonzalez Iglesias, 23 Sebastian Cancelliere.

Australia: 15- Dane Haylett-Petty, 14 - Israel Folau, 13 - Reece Hodge, 12 - Kurtley Beale, 11- Marika Koroibete, 10- Bernard Foley, 9- Will Genia, 8- David Pocock, 7- Michael Hooper, 6- Ned Hanigan, 5- Adam Coleman, 4- Izack Rodda, 3- Taniela Tupou, 2- Folau Faingaa, 1- Scott Sio.

Replacements: 16-Tolu Latu, 17-Sekope Kepu, 18-Allan Alaalatoa, 19-Rob Simmons, 20-Rory Arnold, 21-Caleb Timu, 22-Nick Phipps, 23-Matt Toomua, 24-Tom Banks.

Key match-up: Nicolas Sanchez vs Bernard Foley

In what could be Nicolas Sanchez's last Argentina Test, he will be hoping to produce a final match to remember and will be essential in seeing his side over the Wallabies. As his forward pack continues to struggle at the set-piece, Sanchez will be crucial in giving his backline direction and putting them on the front foot. He's had an impressive Rugby Championship so far and looked threatening against the All Blacks, and he'll be tested again against the Wallabies, but if he produces a similar performance to what we saw on the Gold Coast, the Wallabies will have a hard time shutting him down.

After sitting on the bench for three weeks Bernard Foley will be desperate to make his mark in the playmaking role he'd made his own for the past two years. Following two wayward performances against the All Blacks, Foley found himself on the outer as Kurtley Beale slotted into the No.10 jersey. Thankfully for Foley, and Wallabies fans, the experiment has come to an end and he will be restored. With both side's set-piece a shambles the playmaker role be as important as ever, but for the Wallabies it could finally give the side some much needed direction.

Verdict: The Pumas have the talent and the hunger for victory that can see them easily cement the Wallabies to the bottom of the table and the wooden spoon. They've been impressive throughout the series, especially against the Wallabies and All Blacks on the road, and with a new direction from Mario Ledesma they should earn a third win of the series. But a wounded Wallabies aren't a side to underestimate. They have the superstar names and the ability, but whether they can put it together is the question. Argentina to add to the Wallabies woes by five points.