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Yokohama – New Zealand captain Kieran Read said Saturday’s highly anticipated clash with South Africa is one of the biggest matches of his career as the All Blacks launch their bid for a record third consecutive world crown.
The Pool B match-up at Yokohama features two of the most successful sides in rugby history, and two of the sport’s greatest rivals, in a tournament where no team has lost a pool match and gone on to lift the trophy.
The pre-match exchanges focused on whether referees do or do not have a bias towards the All Blacks, but the match reality centres on the rapid improvement of the Springboks since they were caned 57-0 by New Zealand two years ago.
Rassie Erasmus came in as coach and instigated an approach that hinges on kicking for territory and then regaining the ball through forward power.
It has resulted in a margin of no more than two points in the next four matches against the reigning world champions, setting up what could be a classic at the 70,000-capacity International Yokohama Stadium.
The All Blacks, meanwhile, have tweaked their roster but remain comfortable with an emphas
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