2022 New Zealand All Blacks vs Argentina

The Rugby Championship Round 4 Recap: Boks End Australian Woes

The Rugby Championship Round 4 Recap: Boks End Australian Woes

With this year’s tournament now two-thirds finished, all four sides sit at two wins and two losses, making for a frantic finish to the Rugby Championship.

Sep 4, 2022 by Briar Napier
The Rugby Championship Round 4 Recap: Boks End Australian Woes

Is this year’s Rugby Championship the craziest in the four-team era?

Take one peek at the scorelines from the past four matchweeks and it’s easy to be convinced. 

Since Argentina joined the then-Tri Nations tournament in 2012, perhaps no iteration of the competition in its current form has seen more unpredictability than this year’s event. With this year’s tournament now two-thirds finished, all four national sides sit at two wins and two losses to make for what could very likely be a frantic finish to the Rugby Championship.

But as for Round 4, it was especially important for the two traditional powerhouses of the tournament—New Zealand and South Africa—to respond and restake their claims as the squads to beat. And did they ever.

Want to catch up on what’s going on? Here’s a recap of Round 4 of Rugby Championship play as the tournament continues to be streamed live in its entirety on FloRugby.

New Zealand Responds

New Zealand rugby needed a day like Saturday pretty badly. On a losing run of six of eight tests, a three-game home losing run for the first-time ever and coming off a first-ever home defeat to Argentina, the All Blacks were truly in dire straits facing their lowest-ever place (fifth) in the men’s World Rugby Rankings and losing—throughout their recent putrid run of form, at least—much of the powerful mystique that they’ve historically been known for as one of the world’s major rugby forces. 

But this weekend in Hamilton, it seemed as if the All Blacks team most know and fear returned. New Zealand demolished Argentina in a 53-3 beatdown, crossing over for seven tries and earning a vital bonus point that saw it finish Round 4 as the top team in the standings, a stunning bounce back considering the depths the national team looked to be drowning in following its 25-18 defeat to Los Pumas in Round 3. 

The All Blacks’ scoresheet featured a who’s who of Kiwi superstars—Sam Cane, Ardie Savea and Beauden Barrett all notched tries, just to name a few—and the scoreline was achieved even after embattled coach Ian Foster opted not to make any changes to his starting 15 from the shock loss last weekend in Christchurch. 

Highlights: New Zealand Vs. Argentina

It was a big night in particular for Cane, the New Zealand captain that had been a beacon for criticism over the past few months for poor performances, with the Chiefs man scoring his team’s first of four second-half tries in the 60th minute to help cool down his hot seat in terms of keeping the captain’s armband for himself. Richie Mo’unga’s perfect 6-for-6 kicking helped, too, while the Argentine playmakers (like Juan Martin Gonzalez and Emiliano Boffelli) that blitzed New Zealand in Round 3 were hampered in the rematch as Boffelli, the competition’s leading point-scorer entering Round 4, was limited to just a single penalty taken all test this weekend. 

All in all, it was a test that seemed just like old times for the All Blacks as they pulled off their biggest win over Los Pumas since a 48-point triumph in 2001 in Christchurch, and a Rugby Championship repeat looks very much in the cards again as this year’s competition heads into its final two matchweeks. 

Argentina is likely disappointed that it couldn’t pull off an unprecedented double, but the fact that Los Pumas are just one point off the top spot in the table two-thirds of the way through The Rugby Championship—and judging by their skillset have a serious chance to contend—is a testament to the excellent job recent coaching hire Michael Cheika has done thus far in giving a boost to Argentinian rugby.

South Africa Spoils Stadium Opening

Australia had used unfamiliar territory to its advantage last weekend—the 25-17 win over South Africa was the Wallabies’ first trip to Adelaide for a test in 19 years—so it makes sense that coach Dave Rennie’s side would try it again. Saturday marked the first-ever Wallabies test at the sparkling-new Allianz Stadium in Sydney, opened not even a week prior to the match in an already rugby-mad location. 

But on a cold, windy night in Australia’s largest city, the visiting Springboks spoiled the grand opening party. South Africa looked dominant from the kickoff in a 24-8 victory that was more lopsided than the score indicates. The Boks crossed over for four tries and stuffed out much of the Australian attack that burned them on occasion after occasion in Adelaide. 

South Africa coach Jacques Nienaber made eight changes to his starting lineup following the defeat to great success, with two of those new names (including debutant winger Canan Moodie and flanker Franco Mostert) notching tries along with a pair of national team stalwarts in center Damian de Allende and winger Makazole Mapimpi. The Boks were a bruising force in a feisty test that featured numerous scuffles, with powerful lock Eben Etzebeth continuing to make his mark both through a strong performance and a fiery confrontation with Aussie prop Allan Alaalatoa not long after Mapimpi’s late try. 

Highlights: Australia Vs. South Africa

The Wallabies only managed to notch what proved to be a single try for naught (via Peter Samu in the 78th minute) while their brutal injury luck in The Rugby Championship continued. Starters Hunter Paisami and Noah Lolesio were both forced off for head knocks, with Lolesio’s absence particularly of concern as Australia is thin at fly-half already. Not only that, but backup prop Taniela Tupou was made inactive following an injury in warmups, limiting the Wallabies’ depth up front in the process, too. 

It was a well-needed win for South Africa in Australia—its first in the country since 2013—and got the Springboks out of the basement of The Rugby Championship table, sitting just a point back of leader New Zealand with a home series against Argentina remaining. 

Meanwhile, Australia missed out on a massive opportunity to take what would’ve been a three-point lead at the top of the Rugby Championship standings with three matches to go, instead continuing a nearly year-long run without consecutive victories as much of the positive momentum gained in its win over the Boks was suddenly gone in an instant.