Free Picks: South Africa vs. Argentina 2013 Rugby Championship

Richard O'Hagan

Tuesday, August 13, 2013 7:57 PM GMT

Tuesday, Aug. 13, 2013 7:57 PM GMT

The second game of the 2013 Rugby Championship takes place at FNB Stadium in Soweto, with hosts South Africa taking on the Pumas of Argentina.


For more information and betting predictions, read our 2013 Rugby Championship preview!

One of the surprises of the inaugural Rugby Championship came when the South Africans went to Argentina and were held to a 16-16 draw. Indeed, many thought that they were lucky to escape with a point at all, having been 13-3 down at half time. How will this affect your rugby betting picks?

A similar result seems unlikely in this game. The Springboks are firm favorites on their home ground, albeit in a stadium where they have played little and they have been boosted by the news that scrum half Fourie du Preez will be available for their home games after the South African authorities finally struck a deal with his Japanese club Suntory Sungoliath which will see him don the green jersey for the first time since 2011.

With du Preez only available for home games it seems likely that Ruan Pienaar will start in the nine jersey, whilst Morne Steyn and professional Fotherington-Thomas impersonator Pat Lambie will battle it out to start at outside half. Jean de Villiers keeps the captaincy and looks likely to be partnered by the evergreen Bryan Habana in the center.

Up front, there’s a recall for Duane Vermuelen at number eight and an embarrassment of riches in the front row, especially at hooker where the experience and competitiveness of Bismarck du Plessis will be supplemented with the youthful bristle of Riaan Strauss.

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The Pumas have enjoyed a good buildup to the competition, with good wins over regional Australian sides. The problem that they always face is that, as the only top ten side in South America, they get very little top-level competition. That means that their best players have to take their chances in overseas club rugby, which then leaves them exposed to mismatches. Such a mismatch occurred in June, when a scarcely second string England side was able to beat a Pumas side formed of their own reserves, since many of Argentina’s usual starters were either still playing abroad or recovering from injury. However, in veteran back Felipe Contepomi and captain Juan Martín Fernández Lobbe they have two players who are genuinely world-class, and the likes of Santiago Fernandez and Federico Nicolás Sánchez are not far behind them.

That said, the rugby betting odds market in this case is strongly favoring the Springboks, to the extent that the best price you’ll get on them is 1/6 at Sportingbet. You therefore need to look elsewhere to get any value for your sports picks. One place might be the halftime/fulltime market. One of the positives to come out of their 3-0 defeat to England was that the Pumas often managed to keep the game close until well into the second half, so why not take the 6/1 that Ladbrokes offer on them being ahead at half time, or the surprisingly generous 18/1 on the scores being level at the break.

Another attractive option is the winning margin market. It is well known that the Argentineans tend to do less well away from home, but last autumn they beat Wales in Cardiff and will be keen to show that that result was no fluke. For this reason, a Springbok win by 6-10 points looks like the best bet here, especially as you can have that for 5/1 at Ladbrokes.

Check out our analysis on the Australia vs. New Zealand match, part of the 2013 Rugby Championship opening round!
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