Stuart Barnes expects an epic Rugby Championship finale when the All Blacks play South Africa
Last Updated: September 29, 2013 1:45pm
Making them pay: The All Blacks beat Argentina
South Africa set-up a fascinating Rugby Championship decider against New Zealand next weekend with their victory over Australia - but they could yet rue their failure to secure a bonus point against the Wallabies.
The All Blacks remain strong favourites to retain their Rugby Championship title after Ben Smith's late try against Argentina ensured the unbeaten New Zealanders secured a bonus-point victory over the Pumas in La Plata on Saturday. Read the full report.
South Africa, meanwhile, overcame Australia 28-8 at Newlands but, despite sustained pressure late on, they failed to claim a try bonus point which means they must secure a bonus-point win over the All Blacks whilst preventing their opponents from taking anything from the game in Johannesburg next Saturday. Read the full report.
Here our Sky Sports experts give their verdict on another high-octane weekend in the Rugby Championship and look ahead to next weekend.
Thinus Delport on South Africa
"There were a couple of missed opportunities. Adam Ashley-Cooper made a great try-saving tackle and then unfortunately towards the end of the second half there were a couple of key lineouts missed with Bismarck's [Du Plessis] missed throws, especially the last one with five minutes to go which would have set us up for a great attacking opportunity when Australia had another man in the bin.
"So there were some spoilt opportunities. There were some well taken opportunities, don't get me wrong. There were some passages when we were playing some really good enterprising rugby, really building on and layering up on traditional South African play. But as much as we are happy and celebrating the victory, it is that crucial bonus-point try that we needed to keep in the hunt against the All Blacks."
Stuart Barnes on New Zealand
"I think even the most partial South African will probably think that is a hurdle too high. But from a South African perspective, they will think back to the injustice of the Biscmark Du Plessis incident; they will think they were seven points down in New Zealand and they were giving them a game.
"These are the two world super powers from day one of Test match rugby and even if South Africa were eight points behind and didn't have a chance it would still be massive. They do have a little bit of a chance and they have a big chance of bloodying New Zealand's nose - that makes it an absolute epic.
"At Ellis Park Morne Steyn will kick 15m longer, they will carry hard and it is going to be a fantastic contest. I think the All Blacks will have to play better than we have seen all Championship for them to win. But I see enough in New Zealand to say they are capable of doing just that."
Michael Lynagh on Australia
"In the last 60 [minutes] yes, but it was lost in the first 20. South Africa came out and blasted us away. There was a bit of resolve in the second half which was good. I though Michael Hooper was almost playing on his own for Australia at times. He seemed to be making just about every tackle and at every ruck.
"It was a better performance by Australia. I did like the resolve and the spirit they showed in the second half after being down against what is a pretty decent South Africa team."
Alfredo Lalanne on Argentina
"Argentina were very close and they fought until the end. They had 10 minutes when they lost their momentum and did not know what they were doing. They were playing a lateral game on in their own 25 yards and it did not make sense.
"I think they have a great opportunity next week. Australia have not been performing as they wish and I think Argentina have a great opportunity if they can continue to give what they have been giving during this Championship. They can take the win. This is a game they are targeting."