The Rugby Championship will go down to its final two rounds in what is set to be a thrilling climax to the southern hemisphere showpiece.

The ladder shows that each of the All Blacks, Pumas, Springboks and Wallabies have two wins apiece, with Ian Foster’s team sitting clear at the top by virtue of a single bonus point.

That was secured in their 53-3 trouncing of the Pumas in Hamilton on Saturday night, while the Springboks also picked up what may yet prove a pivotal bonus point of their own with a resounding win over the Wallabies in Sydney.

Read on as we review some of the big talking points from the weekend.


Siya Kolisi has perhaps not been at his best since he led the Springboks to their World Cup triumph in Japan at 2019.

But on Saturday night in Sydney the South African wound back the clock with a virtuoso showing that created all sorts of headaches for the Wallabies and typified his side’s desperation as they sought to bounce back from a poor performance in Adelaide.

Kolisi had two steals inside 15 minutes at Allianz Stadium as the Springboks rattled the Australians at the tackle, with young Wallabies No. 7 Fraser McReight unable to get into the game as he had done so a week earlier.

If Kolisi wasn’t winning the turnover, then he was winning the penalty from referee Ben O’Keefe.

But his contributions weren’t confined to the defensive side of the ball either, Kolisi playing a key role in the lead-up to Franco Mostert’s try early in the second half.

Roaming out wide, Kolisi took off for a run down the left touchline before hitting, spinning and finding an offload to prop Steven Kitshoff. When the front-rower’s own offload hit the deck, Kolisi doubled back, scooped up the loose ball centimetres from the sideline and scrambled it to Damian Willemse, with the Springboks going on to score through Mostert two phases later.

Then to cap off his brilliant performance, Kolisi added another turnover a few minutes later as any thought of a late Wallabies comeback quickly evaporated.

Damian Willemse may have been named man-of-the-match and the Springboks fly-half certainly had an excellent game, but Kolisi’s impact on both sides of the ball was just as important in South Africa’s triumph.


There was plenty of reaction to the Springboks’ performance in Adelaide — some of it on the money, some of it completely ridiculous — but it was clear from the opening whistle in Sydney the visitors were keen to atone for their effort seven days earlier.

And there was perhaps no more determined player on the field than Makazole Mapimpi, who can’t have escaped the endless replays and discussion of Marika Koroibete’s try-saving tackle at the Adelaide Oval.

No matter what Springboks supporters, or the countless others who deemed it illegal, might have thought of Koroibete’s tackle, it was cleared by both the SANZAAR judicial committee and World Rugby. The case, as they say, was closed.

The only one really able to issue a reply thereafter was Mapimpi, and the Springboks winger did just that with a superb finish for his side’s fourth try in Sydney as three Wallabies defenders, Koroibete included, closed in.

Where he had leapt into the air in Adelaide, this time Mapimpi got low to the ground and the Wallabies’ cover defence was powerless to stop him. It was the finish of a world-class winger, as Mapimpi has previously proven himself to be.

What wasn’t world class however, and something more out of Nic White playbook from Adelaide, was Mapimpi seeing it necessary to plant his hand on Koroibete’s face and push his head down into the turf.

It was an unnecessary act and poor sportsmanship, just as White’s reaction to Faf de Klerk’s stray arm had been seven days earlier. The result on this occasion, however, was a near all-in scuffle that almost finished up in Row 1 of Allianz Stadium.

Mapimpi was given a yellow card for instigating the melee, while Eben Etzebeth was probably a tad fortunate to avoid sanction himself after he charged in and clambered with multiple Wallabies players and eventually found himself face-to-face with Allan Alaalatoa.


While the All Blacks were unable to break down the Pumas’ blue-and-white wall in Christchurch, Ian Foster’s side had no such trouble opening up the South Americans’ defence in Hamilton.

And it appears that the addition of Joe Schmidt to Foster’s staff in a more hands-on role appears to already be paying dividends, as suddenly the All Blacks’ attack found its rhythm and the likes of Rieko Ioane, Jordie Barrett and Caleb Clarke were poking their heads through the line.

Ioane, in particular, relished the front-foot ball, the Blues midfielder enjoying arguably his best game at outside centre for the All Blacks as he finished with 11 runs for 100 metres, with four clean breaks, six beaten defenders, a try and a further try-assist.

Schmidt was responsible for creating Ireland’s attacking framework, which Andy Farrell has since improved again, with so much of it based around Jonathan Sexton.

Certainly Richie Mo’unga looked a different player to the one who started in Christchurch while Beauden Barrett also came on late in Hamilton and made an impact, the duo perhaps already enjoying the clarity Schmidt provides with his clear communication.

It may be a tad early to declare him the All Blacks’ saviour and the team a different beast entirely on the back of one 50-point win would be foolish, but they have certainly given the Wallabies something to ponder under two weeks out from the Bledisloe Cup.


Dane Coles has been ruffling the feathers of opposition players for years, so it was no surprise to see him again pushing the buttons of the Pumas players on Saturday night.

In his sights, this time, was Pablo Matera, the Pumas talisman who was a thorn in the side of the All Blacks in both of Argentina’s historic wins over the All Blacks in the past three years.

And Coles clearly managed to get under Matera’s skin, the Argentine appearing to take objection to a clean-out from the hooker during the second-half.

Then when the two teams lined up to thank each other at fulltime, Matera rejected Coles’ handshake and instead pushed him in the chest.

While it wasn’t a great look for the Argentine, All Blacks coach Ian Foster could certainly see the funny side.

“Didn’t shake Colesy’s hand? He wouldn’t be the first player,” Foster said.

“Everyone loves Colesy.”

And Matera was later spied having a laugh with some of his Crusaders teammates, while All Blacks assistant and former Crusaders assistant Jason Ryan said it was out of character for the back-rower to behave in such a manner.

“I’m not sure what happened there, me and Joe got our one wrong in the coaches box too, I don’t know if you’ve seen that one,” Ryan said.

“But Pablo was in the shed after, it’s pretty out of character from him to be fair.

“I’m sure they will move on. They’re both competitive men.”


Walking out of Allianz Stadium, Wallabies fans would have been right in feeling they’d witnessed one of the Wallabies worst performances of 2022, but underneath the surface of the many issues that plagued their game on Saturday night, Rob Valetini was one of the few highlights for the team.

As everything seemed to go wrong around him, the No.8 could again be trusted to take the lead in making several important carriers and ball-and-all tackles as the team attempted to claw their way into the contest.

One of the most consistent players for the Wallabies, Valetini finished the night with 10 carries for 21 metres, while he had more impact with the ball than any other player in the gold jersey. His impression of a human wrecking ball also continues to be one of the team’s best assets.

While the Wallabies forwards were out-muscled from the opening whistle, Valetini was one of the few that stood up and imposed himself on the match, with his aggression in defence causing several issues for the Springboks.

It’s hard to imagine where the Wallabies would have finished up on Saturday night if not for Valetini and his immense work as he quickly becomes of the most important players in their line-up.