South Africa deserve enormous credit for turning their World Cup around to reach the last four, but up against a virtually-flawless New Zealand side, the Springboks are likely to fall short of the mark at Twickenham.
Few could argue with Heyneke Meyer’s description of the All-Blacks as “the best team to have ever played the game” in the build up to the match, as the world champions have won 47 and lost only three of their last 52 Tests.
Even before Steve Hansen’s awesome All-Black vintage prepared to defend their 2011 crown, there was genuine acceptance that this team had the best chance of any to become the first ever to win back-to-back World Cups.
Then they began playing and that theory has grown stronger by the match. Anyone who saw the 62-13 humbling of the French in their quarter-final, would have witnessed about as consummate a performance as there’s ever been in top-level international rugby.
A far more defensively sound South African side are sure to have more answers than France did, but even armed with a gameplan of preventing quick ball to New Zealand’s danger men, the intelligence of Dan Carter and co means holes will be found.
The All-Blacks are certainly worthy of their 1/4 favouritism, having scored 10 more tries than their Southern Hemisphere rivals en route to the semis, going undefeated and claiming four of the last five Test victories between the nations.
It’s this extra firepower which will be key to ending South African hopes of a third World Cup trophy and no one is better equipped to break Springbok hearts than New Zealand wing Julian Savea.
The try-scoring sensation requires just one more to surpass opposite number Bryan Habana’s record of eight tries in a single World Cup.
Savea has to be the best first tryscorer option for the match at 7/1, while the record-chasing back going over in the match alongside his fellow winger, Nehe Milner-Skudder, is one of the peachiest enhanced specials on the game form Ladbrokes, out to 13/2 from 9/2.
New Zealand’s average winning margin over South Africa in the past five Tests comes in a smidgen under nine points, so backing them with a -9 handicap looks justified at 1/1.
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