The 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia is less than a year away and we’re heading into the final few fixtures before the final 32 teams will qualify to participate in the most high profile international sporting tournament. Alongside that, one of rugby’s biggest rivalries is reignited this weekend when the Boks take on the All Blacks in Cape Town. We’ve rounded up the five biggest clashes and encounters that you can’t afford to miss:
Cheetahs v Glasgow Warriors
The Cheetahs have surprised everyone by not only being extremely competitive in the newly expanded Pro 14 competition, but by being one of the unbeaten frontrunners of the competition. But the Warriors arrive with a 100 per cent winning record too, having won all five of their games so far, making this arguably the standout tie of the weekend. The Warriors have an experienced side to field, but the Cheetahs’ unpredictable attack and improving composure should stun the Scottish side this weekend.
Prediction: Cheetahs by 10. You can bet on the Cheetahs v Glasgow Warriors game here.
South Africa v Burkina Faso
In Bafana Bafana’s qualifying group, they’re sitting dead last on four points, while Burkina Faso is in pole position on six – but Bafana can make up some ground in their qualification battle with a victory at the FNB Stadium. Additional pressure is on Bafana, though, because a previous qualifier match against Senegal was recently deemed unfair, where a referee handed South Africa the match-winning penalty illegally. They now face a replay of that match, knowing they must get a victory not only against Burkina Faso this Saturday, but will also need a victory against a superior team in Senegal later in November. All the pressure is on Bafana to get two positive performances and results in a row if they are to book their spot in the tournament next year.
Prediction: 1-0 to South Africa. You can bet on the South Africa v Burkina Faso game here.
Springboks v All Blacks
While they’ve only picked up one loss (albeit a colossal 57-0) this season, there’s no denying a sense of disappointment in South Africa’s Rugby Championship campaign, given the positive start in the French Test series earlier this year. That said, they have a chance at redemption when the All Blacks steamroll into Newlands on Saturday. The Boks have shown signs of promise, and while we’d like to think they could cause a massive upset, the preparation and clinical execution of the All Blacks this year is just too tight to shake.
Prediction: All Blacks by 10. You can bet on the Springboks v All Blacks game here.
Poland v Montenegro
Poland and Montenegro are first and second in their group respectively, but Montenegro is tied for second place with Denmark on 16 points each, while Poland is on 19. If Montenegro suffer a loss and Denmark win their match against Romania it means Montenegro will fall out of the top two qualification spots, so there’s a lot riding on them at least drawing with Poland in what will be a tough away game against the Group E leaders. They’ll also be keenly aware that Denmark’s match is at home, so they’re likely to get the win, and depending on how results pan out all three teams could be on 19 points by the end of this qualifier round.
Prediction: 2-1 to Poland. You can bet on the Poland v Montenegro game here.
Argentina v Wallabies
The Wallabies can secure the runners-up tag for a second straight year if they defeat the Pumas, but may need a bonus-point should the Springboks stay within seven points of the All Blacks. Should South Africa pull off the unthinkable and upset New Zealand, then the Wallabies will be playing for nothing having been condemned to a third-place finish. However, the Wallabies have been gradually improving while the Argentines haven’t evolved as much as we would’ve liked them to have this season.
Prediction: Wallabies by 5. You can bet on the Argentina v Wallabies game here.
If you’re looking to earn your weekend drinks off the guys at Sportingbet (it wouldn’t be the first time), you can place your bets on the upcoming sporting clashes here.
What are your predictions for this weekend? Which teams will come out on top in the respective encounters? Let us know by tweeting us @MenStuffZA!