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Australia set up Rugby Championship showdown with New Zealand

New Zealand skipper Richie McCaw is trying to lead the All Blacks to their fourth consecutive Rugby Championship title.
New Zealand skipper Richie McCaw is trying to lead the All Blacks to their fourth consecutive Rugby Championship title. Reuters/Phil Walter

This year's most prestigious prize in rugby is the William Webb Ellis Cup. It is presented to the team that wins the World Cup. That's for later in the autumn. At the moment in the southern hemisphere four teams   South Africa, Australia, New Zealand and Argentina   are fighting for bragging rights in the Rugby Championship.


It’s all set up for a cracker next weekend at the ANZ Stadium in Sydney. Australia will host New Zealand for the third game in this year's Rugby Championship which has been shortened due to the impending World Cup.

Both sides are unbeaten. Australia saw off South Africa in their first game and on Saturday the Wallabies scored four tries as they overwhelmed Argentina 34-9 at the Estadio Malvinas in Mendoza.

It was still close at half time. Two penalties from Nicolas Sanchez were the Argentine response to a Joe Tomane try and a Bernard Foley penalty. 

The crucial score came courtesy of substitute Dean Mumm who provided breathing space for the Australians. His try a couple of minutes after his introduction made it 19-9 and they never looked back.

At the Emirates Airlines Park in Johannesburg, South Africa suffered their second defeat of the tournament.

Following their 24-20 reverse on 18 July against Australia, they lost 27-20 against New Zealand. It started brightly for the hosts. Willie Le Roux scored the first try of the game after 10 minutes. Handre Pollard converted to give the Springboks a 7-3 lead.

That advantage was extended after Liam Messam was penalised for a high tackle. Pollard’s penalty made it 10-3. But on the stroke of half-time New Zealand’s debutant fly-half Lima Sopoaga passed to Ben Smith who touched down. Sopoaga’s conversion meant the sides turned round at the pause 10-10.

It was a similar case of tit-for-tat during the second-half but once the All Blacks got their noses in front courtesy of a Richie McCaw try in the 73rd minute, the visitors held firm. Sopoaga’s late penalty in the dying seconds brought his match points tally to 12 and killed off any prospects of a late rally.

It also vindicated coach Steve Hansen’s decision to hand a first cap to the 24-year-old.

As things stand, Australia lead the table having scored more points than the All Blacks. A draw will give them their first Rugby Championship title in the four years since the Tri-Nations Series was expanded to allow the inclusion of Argentina.

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