James Ihaka is a Herald reporter based in Hamilton.

Rugby: Plenty of bets backing Boks

Interest in clash highest since World Cup final against France, says Eden Park boss

It's Eden Park's biggest match since the Rugby World Cup final, with a confident Springboks on a 10-match winning run keen to break a 76-year duck at the ground.

And despite the All Blacks' 19-year unbeaten run at the park, hundreds of TAB punters are putting their money on the South Africans to win.

A capacity crowd of 48,500 is expected to see the All Blacks play South Africa in the Rugby Championship match that is likely to determine who wins the competition.

Eden Park marketing manager Grant McKenzie said interest in a game at the ground was probably the highest it had been since the All Blacks beat France 8-7 in the Rugby World Cup final two years ago.

Mr McKenzie said less than 2000 tickets were available for the match, which was almost certain to sell out.

"When Australia is very competitive, the Bledisloe Cup matches are very keenly anticipated," he said. "But this is absolutely shaping up to be a real battle."

TAB bookmaker Mark Stafford said with the Springboks in good form and All Black captain Richie McCaw out injured, New Zealanders were putting their money on the Springboks - who were yesterday at long odds of $3.30. The All Blacks are paying $1.30 for the win.

"[The Boks] are in good nick and they haven't lost for a long time. People have seen the odds and are saying 'that can't be right' and they're putting money on it," he said.

Money bet on a Springbok win was yesterday six times more than what had been placed on the All Blacks, Mr Stafford said. The biggest punt so far was a $4000 bet at $3.80 for a South African win - which, if successful, would pay about $15,000.

"For the winning team and margin most of the money is again on South Africa for the win at 12 and under, then New Zealand at 12 and under and then South Africa 13 and over.

"Virtually no one has put money on New Zealand to win at 13 and over."

South Africa, who last won at Eden Park in 1937, have named an unchanged 23-man game-day squad for the test with the same team that trounced the Wallabies 38-12 in Brisbane last Saturday.

Worst weather to pass by test

Rugby-goers can rest assured, the storm battering the country is forecast to be clear of Eden Park by kickoff on Saturday night.

MetService meteorologist John Law said there was a chance of showers and a southwesterly breeze, but overall it would not be a bad night to be sitting in the stands.

"The worst of the rain should clear away as we head into the weekend so for Saturday it's not really looking too bad. There are still a few showers around and there will be a southwesterly breeze for the game itself but it's just about dry at Eden Park.

"The next couple of days we have some really fairly windy and wet weather for Auckland, the front is moving its way up the country ... but as the whole system pulls away you'll find an improving story for Friday which should be a pretty decent day."

Temperatures were due to drop slightly so fans should rug up, he said.

All Blacks v South Africa

Date: Saturday, September 14
Location: Eden Park
Time: Kickoff 7.35pm

Getting there:

Match tickets cover travel by trains and event buses.
Remember to keep your ticket for the ride home.

Travel starts three hours before the game, until the end of service.
Extra trains will run on the western line. Event trains terminate at Morningside station, a short walk to Eden Park.
A mobility shuttle will be available for patrons unable to walk to the stadium.
Additional trains will depart Britomart, stopping only at Grafton station en route.

Services operate to Eden Park from Auckland city centre, Northern Busway stations, Takapuna, Manukau, Pakuranga, Botany, Newmarket and Mt Eden.

- NZ Herald

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