Durban — This is going to be one of the most thrilling Rugby Championship finishes in a long time, and the Springboks will know exactly what they need to do to lift the trophy.
The All Blacks will take on the Wallabies in Auckland at 9.05am (SA time) on Saturday following the New Zealanders’ controversial 39-37 win in Melbourne last Thursday.
The Boks, on the other hand, will face Argentina in the final Rugby Championship Test of the season in Durban at 5.05pm.
The 36-20 victory by Jacques Nienaber’s men in Buenos Aires drew them level on 14 log points with the All Blacks, and for the world champions, the ideal situation would be for the Wallabies to cause an upset and beat the Kiwis at Eden Park.
That would mean the home side would just need to win at Kings Park to be crowned winners.
But what a task that will be for the Wallabies …
New Zealand last lost to Australia at Eden Park in 1986, and while their record at their fortress may fill them with confidence, the Kiwis will also be motivated by the fact that should they stumble in the first match of the day, the South Africans will have all but secured the Championship.
The Boks, All Blacks, Wallabies and Los Pumas all still have a chance of winning the Rugby Championship, although the first two rivals are the front-runners.
The Boks and All Blacks are tied on 14 points, but the latter have a superior points difference of 13, while the Wallabies are on 10 points, and the Pumas on nine.
For Australia to win, they would have to topple the New Zealanders with a full house of points (and prevent the Kiwis from gaining a losing bonus point) and hope that Argentina restrict the Boks in the same way.
Should the All Blacks beat the Wallabies and SA lose or don’t defeat Argentina with a bonus point, the Kiwis will claim it.
If Ian Foster’s men win with only four points, then a bonus-point result for the Boks will seal it for captain Siya Kolisi and Co.
If both the Boks and All Blacks win with or without bonus points and end on the same number of log points, the points differential will determine the title, as the teams are tied on number of wins over each other.
The Springboks and All Blacks bagged a victory each in Nelspruit and Johannesburg, which means that points difference will be the decider.
If the points difference is also tied then, the Springboks will be handed the title as they outscored New Zealand by four points (49 to 45) over their two games in Nelspruit and Johannesburg.