Heyneke Meyer (Getty Images)
Cape Town - Let’s not beat around the bush, the All Blacks are firm favourites to beat the Springboks in their Rugby World Cup semi-final clash at Twickenham on Saturday.
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Since Heyneke Meyer took over as Bok coach in 2012, the Boks have only managed one win over their old rivals in seven attempts.
Overall, the All Blacks now boast a healthy 52-35 lead in the head-to-head standings, with three draws.
It is therefore no wonder local bookmakers, sportingbet.co.za, have the All Blacks as 9-point winners. They have been more impressive than the Springboks in 2015 and after their 62-13 annihilation of France last week, again proved that their attacking skills are far more superior than that of the Boks, who struggled to cross the whitewash in their win over Wales.
In the modern era, it would be fair to say that if the two teams play each other on 10 occasions, that the All Blacks would win eight of those.
However, Saturday is a World Cup semi-final and there will be more nerves.
There’s also another aspect of the game - the weather - which could sway the pendulum more in South Africa’s favour.
There’s a 70% probability of heavy rain by the time the match kicks off and this should prove to be a leveller.
Such conditions will suit the Boks more than their counterparts, who could play themselves into trouble if they opt to run from deep in slippery conditions.
The Springboks will look to dominate the set pieces and contact situations, as well as attempt to keep the game as slow as possible.
The tactical kicking of Handre Pollard, Fourie du Preez and Willie le Roux will be of utmost importance, not to mention slotting kicks at goal.
The Kiwis will be favourites, but they’ll have to box clever if the heavens open come 17:00 (SA time) on Saturday.
15 Willie le Roux, 14 JP Pietersen, 13 Jesse Kriel, 12 Damian de Allende, 11 Bryan Habana, 10 Handre Pollard, 9 Fourie du Preez (captain), 8 Duane Vermeulen, 7 Schalk Burger, 6 Francois Louw, 5 Lood de Jager, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Frans Malherbe, 2 Bismarck du Plessis, 1 Tendai Mtawarira
Substitutes: 16 Adriaan Strauss, 17 Trevor Nyakane, 18 Jannie du Plessis, 19 Victor Matfield, 20 Willem Alberts, 21 Ruan Pienaar, 22 Pat Lambie, 23 Jan Serfontein
15 Ben Smith, 14 Nehe Milner-Skudder, 13 Conrad Smith, 12 Ma'a Nonu, 11 Julian Savea, 10 Daniel Carter, 9 Aaron Smith, 8 Kieran Read, 7 Richie McCaw (captain), 6 Jerome Kaino, 5 Sam Whitelock, 4 Brodie Retallick, 3 Owen Franks, 2 Dane Coles, 1 Joe Moody
Substitutes 16 Keven Mealamu, 17 Ben Franks, 18 Charlie Faumuina, 19 Victor Vito, 20 Sam Cane, 21 Tawera Kerr-Barlow, 22 Beauden Barrett, 23 Sonny Bill Williams