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Rugby Championship: Round six preview

The Rugby Championship concludes this weekend, with New Zealand and South Africa vying for the title.

Australia can also still top the standings but will have to become the first visiting team to beat the All Blacks in Auckland since 1994. Meanwhile, Argentina will be eying another upset when they head to Durban.

All Blacks to get the job done

WhatNew Zealand v Australia, Rugby Championship
WhereEden Park, Auckland
When08:05, Saturday 24th September 2022
How to watchSky Sports Arena and Sky Sports Main Event
OddsNew Zealand 1/10, Australia 6/1

Winning this competition would help cement Ian Foster's position heading into next year's World Cup and a bonus point win against the Wallabies should do it.

However, he will have to do it without his captain Sam Cane but will be confident that his replacement Dalton Papalii can step up, while Ardie Savea's return at number eight is huge.

The Kiwis would not be in this position if Australia's time-wasting had not caught up with them in last Thursday's 39-37 win in Melbourne.

They will be out for revenge but they have not won away to New Zealand since 2001.

Dave Rennie's side are 6/1 to halt that run but it looks unlikely. After the heat that has been placed on Foster in recent months, a fourth defeat of the tournament will see Rennie come under further fire.

Barrett boys could run riot

Injuries have forced Foster into a reshuffle, with Jordie Barrett, 17/10 to score a third try of the tournament at anytime after grabbing the decisive score last week, moving into the midfield to partner Rieko Ioane.

The 25-year-old has spent the majority of the tournament at full-back but has never hidden his preference for wearing the 12 shirt after excelling in that role for the Hurricanes.

His switch makes space for brother Beauden to come in at 15, having started the tournament at fly-half.

Richie Mo'unga's extra control has allowed the Crusaders star to nail down that role but Beauden Barrett's return will allow himself and Mo'unga to chop and change in attack and alter the point of focus when the Kiwis have the ball.

After an eventful tournament in which the All Blacks have swung between agony and ecstasy, this 10-12-15 combination has the potential to spark them into life and they could really open up at Eden Park.

The handicap is set at -15.5 and with a +13 cushion in the points advantage, New Zealand may feel they need to eclipse it at 10/11.

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Boks need to go big

WhatSouth Africa v Argentina, Rugby Championship
WhereKings Park, Durban
When16:05, Saturday 24th September 2022
How to watchSky Sports Mix
OddsSouth Africa 7/100, Argentina 7/1

Injuries have also been unkind to South Africa but they have found their form and looked sharp in last Saturday's 36-20 bonus point win in Buenos Aires.

They will need a similar victory on Saturday if they are to pip the Kiwis to the title and are 1/1 on the -17 handicap against Argentina.

Whether they can go further is uncertain, with injury and other issues at fly-half meaning they have had to turn to veteran Frans Steyn to run the side.

Now 35, Steyn remains one of the most complete players in the game but, having starting out as a 10, has spent much of his career playing in the centres or at full-back.

His goal-kicking may also be an issue, with his big right boot mainly used for distance rather than accuracy.

Can he pilot South Africa to success? His 10-12 combination with Damian De Allende suggests it could be a physical game and may not produce the tries the Boks need.

Pumas to push Boks close

They will also face an improving Argentina side who have beaten both Australia and New Zealand during the current tournament and until last week's defeat to the South Africans, appeared to have shelved some of their previous disciplinary issues.

Michael Cheika seems to have his side heading in the right direction ahead of World Cup 2023.

Cheika also has a dead-eye goal-kicker in the tournament's top scorer Emiliano Boffelli but they have similar problems to their opponents at fly-half, with Santiago Carreras seemingly learning on the job.

They have class elsewhere, though, with number eight Pablo Matera in immense form. The former Leicester man is 9/2 to score a try at anytime and if the game is set to be tight, fellow back-rower Juan Martin Gonzalez might be worth a look in the same market.

The 21-year-old has grabbed three tries so far this tournament and is 11/2 in the anytime.

For the Boks, Malcolm Marx is arguably the form player in the world and the hooker is 20/21 to bundle over, while De Allende is 13/5 to cross the line.

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