In respect of another fallen sporting legend, the Springboks will honour James Small (who died last week), at the game this afternoon. The Boks face Australia at Ellis Park in the first match of this year’s shortened Rugby Championship.
Today’s games are as good as knockout games. The teams coming up short will have a really difficult chance of lifting the trophy.
Australia have beaten South Africa once in 10 attempts at Ellis Park, in 1963. This could explain why the bookies have the Boks as favourites at 5/10, while the visitors are priced up at 16/10, with a +5.5 handicap.
Both teams are fielding fairly new sides. Rassie sent a bunch of first team players to New Zealand early, and while Australia have a couple of injuries they will see this as a great opportunity to win a rare game at Ellis Park, as they go in with some key regular players.
Both Australia and Argentina have an advantage. Not only do they both play the All Blacks at home, but two of their three games are at home. With that in mind I see one of the opening games ending in an upset.
The second encounter this weekend is Argentina hosting New Zealand who have travelled without a host of Crusaders players, left at home to rest for the South African game next weekend. Even with that being the case, the All Blacks are 1/6 favourites to win, and have a -12.5 handicap to overcome. Argentina are outsiders at the price of 4/1. I fancy both Australia and Argentina on the ‘+’ handicap, at 9/10 each, or R3600 payout for a R1000 bet on the double.
On the local front, it’s round two of the Currie Cup. Two games were played yesterday, where the Cheetahs competed in their first game of the campaign. Today’s sole fixture is the Sharks at home to Western Province. The Sharks come off a loss at home last week to the Griquas, while WP come in on a high, after beating the Bulls 20-5. Similar to the Rugby Championship, it’s crucial to get early wins in a shortened competition this year, due to the World Cup. This makes today’s game crucial for both teams, but more so for the Sharks. Province are favourites at 4/7 and the Sharks are priced at 7/5, with the handicap being 4.5 points, at 9/10 either way. I reckon the visitors may have the rub of the green.
Probably the most interesting action this weekend is the last golf Major of this year, the Open Championship in Northern Ireland.
Seemingly there are a couple of South Africans in with a chance. From a ballie like Ernie Els, to younger men like Justin Harding, Eric van Rooyen, and last weekend’s winner on the PGA Tour, Dylan Frittelli. My top picks from different continents at the minute are - Major champion beast Brooks Koepka and fellow American Tony Finau, Mzansi’s Harding and Frittelli, England’s steely Tommy Fleetwood and Ireland’s Shane Lowry.
Don’t forget to watch the Proteas netball side in today’s semi-final at noon against Australia. Let’s hope for another decent weekend for South Africa.
Independent on Saturday