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Rugby 5 Preview for Friday 14 September

LIAM DEL CARME (Sunday Times)
New Zealand v South Africa
The All Blacks still have no Dan Carter and Aaron Cruden looked a little rusty against the Pumas.

The All Blacks were hamstrung by the appalling conditions in Wellington but under the protective cover of the roof of the Forsyth Barr Stadium in Dunedin they should pose a greater threat in attack.
The Springboks were better last week than they were in Mendoza and they would have picked up a few pointers from the Pumas' tactical approach against the All Blacks. The Springboks will be without Eben Etzebeth but the injury concerns over Bryan Habana and Jannie du Plessis are likely to subside. Still, on a quick dry surface the All Blacks should be overwhelming favourites.

Australia v Argentina
Many expect the Wallabies to come to grief in this clash. The loss of Will Genia would only have reinforced that view. Genia's injury which is set to sideline him for the next six to eight months is huge blow for the Wallabies. He dictates the pulse of the side and without him the Wallabies are unlikely to have the same fluidity and urgency to their game. His loss is accentuated by the fact that Wallabies flyhalf Quade Cooper is still some distance from his decisive best. The Pumas would have drawn confidence from their defeat to the All Blacks. Their forwards rumbled and their defence according to All Blacks coach Steve Hansen as among the best in the world. If they don't fade in the final quarter like they did in Wellington they could deliver a shock.

Griquas v Blue Bulls
Griquas are in the throes of an inspirational run of form. The Lions and the Sharks have found the steep upward curve of their performance too hard to handle in recent weeks, while the Bulls' slump in the same period has seen them drop to second last on the points table. The Bulls' defence has been porous of late and on a surface that only encourages a quick tempo-ed game they may be in trouble. This year's competition has however been wildly unpredictable.

Cheetahs v Lions
The force of the Lions' scrum did much to unsettle the Cheetahs in their clash earlier this season. It didn't necessarily win the Lions the game but it gave them a foothold from which they richly benefited. The Cheetahs have however improved in that department and will be more competitive at home. The Lions do however look a more dangerous side now that some of their injured players are re-incorporated into the squad.

Sharks v Western Province
Western Province seemed to have put their slow start to the competition behind them. They were second last not so long ago but they have momentum with them in the last few weeks. The Sharks have blown hot and cold but their defeat to Griquas would have stung them. They will be a much improved side this weekend. They will also draw from their victory over Western Province on the opening weekend of the competition earlier this year.

Date Posted: 9/11/2012
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