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And into Round 4 we go. Time really flies doesn’t it. Argentina venture to Australia this weekend, with South Africa visiting the Kiwis in New Zealand. So what are the chances? Who’s going to do what? What have they done previously? Let’s have a look.
New Zealand, as usual, predicted to win at home. No surprises there. Australia are forecasted to also see away Argentina with relative ease, however give Argentina’s performances in recent weekends, many will no doubt see this as less certain. It will be interesting to see how the Pumas kick on, and if they can continue their form.
With the South African losses, Australia are now favourites to take second place in the Championship, despite currently sitting last in the table. This is because they have already played their more difficult matches, and are likely to win the majority of their remaining matches. The All Blacks have an 85% chance of winning the Grand Slam. Realistically, only an away match to South Africa could put a dent in this scenario. Argentina, despite their recent results, are still more likely than not to pick up the wooden spoon.
South Africa have the greatest win percentage against the All Blacks, having won 35 of their 95 matches (37%). However, the majority of these results came before 1980, when they actually had a 54% win percentage against New Zealand. Since then however, the Kiwis have rather dominated the fixture, winning 72% of the matches played since 1980 (44 from 61).
In New Zealand, this dominance extends rather further, South Africa have only won 4 times from 29 since 1980, the last of those coming in the 2009 Tri-Nations. The rankings reflect this, with South Africa not currently challenging the All Blacks for the top spot as they used to.
Argentina visit Australia in the Gold Coast this weekend, hoping to build on their form from the previous two weekends. The Algorithm doesn’t give them too much chance, just 17%, but due to the way it updates, Argentina’s recent form won’t have had too much influence. Depending on how much value you attribute to Ledesma, this match could be a lot closer.
If they do pull off a victory, it would only be their second against Australia in Australia, with the previous win coming in the first ever fixture back in 1983. The margin in recent years has steadily been increasing, with last years defeat coming by 25 points. Argentina will no doubt be keen to stop this trend.
Another trend they will be keen to stop is their plunging ranking. With some fairly terrible results over the past 2 years (just 2 wins since the start of 2017 before the Rugby Championship) their ranking has suffered. However, a home win against South Africa has won them a few points, bolstering their position in 9th. An away win against Australia would see them gain maximum points, and come within a hairs breadth of France in 8th. Good incentive for the Pumas.